Wednesday, November 10, 2010

City Board's Next Leader?

After his recent loss for New York State Senate, former New York City Councilman Anthony Como has reentered his bid for Executive Director of the New York City Board of Elections — a position which became available after George Gonzalez was fired.

In light of all the recent problems with the City Board of Elections – the bungled ballot instructions, the late opening of poll sites on primary day, and lack of proper poll worker training to name a few — the Board of Elections must move beyond its archaic partisan system for selecting its next executive. The current process, whereby the Democratic and Republican commissioners from each borough make the selection, will result in another behind the scenes selection of a political insider.

The City Board must expand its applicant pool and begin an open and transparent nationwide search to ensure that the position is filled with the best qualified candidate, not the best connected. The New York Times, New York City Councilmembers Gale Brewer and Christine Quinn, and even Commissioner J.C. Polanco from within the City Board of Elections itself have supported this position. While it may be true that, as Commissioner Greg Soumas said, “the best and the brightest talent in all fields could be found in New York City,” the best and brightest will not be found within either of the political party’s inner circles. If the City Board of Elections is going to learn any lesson from the past, it must be that hiring the best professionals to do the job should be their first, second, and third priorities.

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