Sheldon Silver Aide Running Would-Be Successor’s Campaign

District leader and Assembly candidate Alice Cancel.

District leader and Assembly candidate Alice Cancel.

A former community liaison for disgraced ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is stage-managing the campaign of the Democrat running to succeed him—a candidate that Mr. Silver’s allies selected to fill his old Lower Manhattan seat at a meeting of party insiders in February.

Monica Guardiola confirmed to the Observer in a phone interview that she was working as treasurer and scheduler for Alice Cancel, a longtime district leader seeking to replace the vanquished Mr. Silver. She has also acted as a spokeswoman for the campaign.

State records indicate Ms. Guardiola donated $300 dollars to open Ms. Cancel’s campaign account. The address for the campaign listed on the state Board of Elections site also appears to be that of Ms. Guardiola’s apartment.

Ms. Guardiola also told the Observer that she worked as Mr. Silver’s representative to the Hispanic community for 12 years, and said she was the “last of the employees” serving in his office after his indictment on corruption charges last year.

“I was just an employee, and I live in the community. I was in the community, working with the community, with minorities, speaking Spanish, because that was what he had,” she said.

Ms. Guardiola is also president of the Lower East Side Democrats, a pro-Silver political club in the district

The operative denied having any contact with Mr. Silver since his conviction in December, and dismissed suggestions that the fallen lawmaker was looking to control his 40-year turf from beyond the political grave.

“He was my boss, and I was his employee, that was it,” she said. “I’m helping Alice because she’s my friend, and she’s the district leader here in the community, where I reside.”

Special elections for state office, like the one scheduled to fill the Silver seat next month, do not have open primaries. Instead, the Democratic county committee—consisting of political insiders—selects the candidate that will run on the party’s line.

Ms. Guardiola said that the Lower East Side Democrats made up the bulk of the votes for Ms. Cancel at the county committee meeting in February. Also a leading Cancel at that meeting was Mr. Silver’s former chief of staff, Judy Rapfogel—wife of his close friend William Rapfogel, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to using his post as CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty to embezzle $9 million.

Mr. Silver is due for sentencing on April 13—six days before the special election. He is already looking to appeal his convictions.

Voters will choose between Ms. Cancel, Working Families Party candidate Yuh-Line Niou and Republican Lester Chang next month Ms. Niou, a registered Democrat and two-year resident of the district, works as chief of staff to Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim, and enjoys the backing of most labor unions and the Democratic power structure in the Assembly.

Whoever triumphs next month will almost certainly face several challengers in the September Democratic primary. District leaders Paul Newell and Jenifer Rajkumar, and local community board chairwoman Gigi Li—all of whom lost in the county committee vote—told the Observer they intend to seek the seat again.