When an elective office suddenly comes open, such as the Assembly seat vacated on Long Island's North Fork by Daniel Losquadro, it should be filled as quickly as is reasonably possible. That standard should be specifically defined in state election law.

And elected officials should serve the terms they seek.

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Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer wants Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to forgo a special election for the seat of Losquadro, who left last month to become Brookhaven Town highway superintendent. Schaffer contends that by the time a vote is held in June and the winner sworn in, the State Legislature will be out of session, so why waste the $178,000 the vote would cost? Suffolk GOP leader John Jay LaValle is calling foul. Such lobbying is often determined by self-interest, and under different circumstances, the men would likely reverse sides.

Cuomo is not required to call a special election at all, but he should set an election date quickly. A new Assembly member needs time to get up to speed, and his or her constituents need service. One priority for the new legislator should be to amend state election law so special elections meet a tight standard, like the one for Suffolk County offices, that says an election must be held within 90 days of a vacancy.

And all our elected officials should prioritize serving full terms.

Special elections are intended to replace public servants who can no longer fulfill duties. Too often they're needed to replace those, like Losquadro (he served two months of his Assembly term), who spot a better political plumb than the one they had previously plucked.