By STEVE JONES Staff writer

Replacing an "icon in the party" will not be easy, but the sad task has begun, said Rome Democratic Committee Chair Paul Grande.

The city committee will search for and recommend a replacement for Patricia A. Hudak to the Oneida County Board of Legislators in the 29th District. Hudak passed away Christmas Eve at age 63 after a brief illness. She had served for more than 11 years on the board. The Rome Democrat was re-elected in November after running unopposed, and was the board’s minority leader for the past two years but had not sought a new term in that post.

According to the county charter, an interim Democratic legislator may be appointed by the county executive subject to board approval to serve in 2012. The city Democratic committee will make a recommendation to County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., who had indicated his intent to follow that suggestion, said Grande. A public election would be held in November to determine who would fill the remaining year of the two-year term in 2013.

Grande, who was close to Hudak, even growing up nearby, said the committee has discussed several possible candidates for appointment, but no decision has been made. He said that Picente has not indicated a time line for replacement.