Richmond County Committee Can’t Change if it’s Run by an Elected Official

By Nicole Negron and Roxanne Mustafa

In New York State, the Democratic County Committee is the most local level of Democratic Party governance. Its responsibilities include establishing the party platform, endorsing Democratic candidates and selecting the party’s nominee in special elections, and determining the party’s budget. The Committee’s decisions determine how effectively the party operates and represents local members of the party. Here on Staten Island, where hundreds of committee seats have been sitting vacant, effectively ceding control to those in power, a movement by community leaders, organizers, and residents is pushing for a more representative, diverse and open Democratic County Committee.

On April 23, the Staten Island Democratic Party Chair, John Gulino, announced that he would not be seeking reelection this July. This vacancy is an opportunity to strengthen Staten Island’s Democratic Party by selecting party leaders through a truly democratic process that reflects principles of accountability and transparency, and resists corruption and abuse of power. We believe that to achieve this, the party should select a leader who is not an elected official or beholden to an elected official.

1. Selecting an elected official as County Committee Chair would be a dangerous consolidation of power, as well as a conflict of interest.

To achieve a County Committee that reflects the diverse voices of the local Democratic voters, the Chairperson must make decisions based on the interests of all members of the party, and build a broad coalition of Democrats under one tent. Having an elected official serving as chair would inherently put a thumb on the scale towards an official’s own political agenda, and threaten to thwart the voices of the broader community.