The Future of District Leaders

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District Leaders in Brooklyn are elected political party positions tasked with nominating judicial candidates to State Supreme Court, registering voters, increasing voter turnout in all elections, hiring Election Day workers to staff polling sites and finding jobs for folks.

In the 2016 Presidential Election, we witnessed a continuing trend in recent years and that was the pattern of low voter participation. Some blamed district leaders for the low voter turnout. Some believed district leaders hadn’t done enough to inspire voter participation. Today, many believe its time for a wide-ranging public discussion on the role of district leaders in the Kings County political realm and beyond.

District leaders (DL) are elected to two-year terms; they receive no salary, office space nor other public funds to execute their duties. Folks are asking if it is realistic to expect DLs to do so much with no financial aid at all. Today, indeed many questions are being asked about DLs. While DLs get no salary, it is said that New York City taxpayers shell out millions of dollars to hold DLs elections and process the petitions and related ballot paperwork for DLs elections.

There are many serious questions relative to DLs: One, should DLs receive salary and/or public funds for Office space and related expenses? Two, should DLs get a four-year term of Office? Three, should there be term limits for DLs? Four, should DLs be abolished and state assemblymembers absorb their responsibilities? Five, should DLs be mandated to submit to drug testing periodically? Six, should DLs submit their financial disclosure documents and tax returns to public agencies and be available for public review? Seven, should DLs be prohibited from concurrently holding another elected public office while they are DLs, such as an elected city councilmember or member of the state legislature?

Eight, in each assembly district there are two elected district leaders; one is reserved for a male and one is held for a female. As such, DLs appear to be the only elected position in American history that is gender based and many believe could not pass a Constitutional challenge. There are many who are talking about the entire DLs structure, including making legal challenges against the gender based posts.

Moreover, there are a lot of corner whispers about whether the post of Kings County Democratic Party Chair ought be limited to elected district leaders–or if it should be open to election by any registered Democrat. The additional chatter offers up a question if there should be term limits for the chair’s post.

Clearly, its time for a wide-ranging public discussion on the future of the District Leaders–let the public discussion begin.