Op-Ed: Seven Reforms That Kings County Democrats Should Consider


Why am I running for Democratic State Committee?

This is a question I have heard time and again since I announced last winter that I would run to unseat a 40 year incumbent for a position few people know exist.

The short answer is that if we want to see our local, state, and federal government be more transparent, honest, and reactive to ordinary people we must reform it from the bottom up.

The long answer:

A Democratic State Committee Member, sometimes called District Leader, is an unpaid elected party position within the local Democratic Party. Its members serve on the Executive Committee of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic Party and the Democratic State Committee.

Unbeknownst to most voters, the Kings County Democratic Party plays a large role in selecting our State Supreme Court Judges, nominating candidates for Governor, State Comptroller, and Attorney General, and in deciding how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the support of candidates.

Unfortunately, the Kings County Democratic Party too often supports Judges not on merit, but on political connections. It has spent large sums of money supporting and defending indicted politicians, while at the same time trying to block new and diverse voices. Not surprisingly, four out of the last five Chairs of the Kings County Democratic Party have themselves been indicted along with many Kings County Supreme Court Judges, State Assemblymembers, State Senators, and City Council Members.

This is not just a problem in Brooklyn.  Just last week in the Bronx, the Democratic County Organization of that borough, through its Judicial Convention, nominated the sitting Bronx D.A. to State Supreme Court, allowing the Bronx County Executive Committee to choose who the next Bronx D.A. will be. Putting aside for the moment the unhealthy power of party controlled judicial conventions to select judges it is even more problematic that the Bronx County Executive Committee gets to choose the next D.A. and not the people.

D.A.’s are some of our most important elected officials and the gatekeepers of our criminal justice system and they should never be handpicked by a select few. The choice of 1.4 million people in the Bronx has been overruled by the choice of a select few who sit on the Bronx County Democratic Party Executive Committee. Under current party rules, which I will fight to change, this could have happened in Brooklyn.

When I announced my candidacy last year many reform and progressive voices joined in supporting me because they know how important it is to reform this institution.

I am proud to say I have the support of Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Assemblymembers Jim Brennan, Jo Anne Simon, Felix Ortiz, Former Assemblymember Joan Millman, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, District Leader Josh Skaller, and District Leader Paige Bellenbaum.

Even though the election is not until September 2016 I have already put out a platform listing 7 ways to reform the Kings County Executive Committee and the Democratic State Committee:

  • Create a truly independent Judicial Screening Panel that takes the appointment of Supreme Court Judges out of political backrooms, so that ability and integrity win out over crooked deals.

  • Bar contributions from judicial candidates to State Committee Members and vice versa, and further remove politics from our judicial election process.

  • Bar State Committee Members from being the spouse, parent, or child of a Judge or person holding Public Office in the State of New York. The State Committee needs to be representative of local members of the community and not a bastion of cronyism.

  • Term limits, so no one can serve longer than 5 consecutive terms or 10 years on the State Committee. The State Committee should be a place where members of the community can take part in organizing our Democratic party and not a place where the select few use it as a tool to strengthen their own political power.

  • Bar State Committee Members from holding appointed Government positions (i.e. Deputy Mayor, Commissioner, etc.) while on the State Committee and for two years after leaving office.

  • Change the bylaws of the King County Democratic party so that District Leaders can only hold proxies from their district at the annual County Committee meeting. This will ensure one person does not hold a majority of proxies at the annual meeting and thus be able to stifle all debate.

  • Create a bright line rule that the party will not support any politician who has been indicted or convicted of a felony due to corruption or malfeasance related to their public or party office.

For more information please go to my website www.robertcarroll2016.com.