Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Local Elected Officials Urge Appointment of Roosevelt Island Six

Image of Roosevelt Island 6 from Roosevelt Island 360 via Main Street WIRE

Below is letter sent to Governor Spitzer by Roosevelt Island elected officials supporting the nomination and appointment of the 6 winning candidates in the recently completed election for nomination to the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors.

Unfortunately, the letter in inaccurate in one very important aspect of this election. Although it is true that more Roosevelt Islanders voted in the RIOC Directors election than in the Presidential Primary or the 2006 elections, the number of votes cast was not 1718 as stated in the third paragraph of the letter. Rather, 1718 is the number of total individual ballots cast by Roosevelt Island residents. Since each resident could vote for up to 6 of the 10 candidates on the ballot the total number of votes would be several times more than the number of ballots cast. Also, remember that United States citizenship was not a requirement to vote in this election, only Roosevelt Island residency though it is not known how this impacted the total number of voters. The Main Street Wire breaks down the total number of ballots and votes cast in the RIOC Directors election here and for comparison purposes here is the breakdown for the votes cast on Roosevelt Island for the 2006 NY State and Federal elections.

Here is the letter to the Governor.

Dear Governor Spitzer:

We are writing to you as the local elected officials who represent the residents of Roosevelt Island. As you know, Roosevelt Island is governed by the Roosevelt Island Operation Corporation (RIOC), a public benefit corporation whose board members are appointed by you as Governor. For many years now, Roosevelt Islanders have sought a greater role and a more democratic voice in determining the future direction and operation of their island home.

In response to the islanders’ calls for better representation on the RIOC Board of Directors and in the affairs of running the island, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) held an Island-wide referendum on February 5, 2008 to reccomend residents’ choices for filling the six vacant or expired Board seats.

Turnout for this historic vote was unprecedented. More people voted for the RIOC Board than for the Presidential primary or in the 2006 elections. Altogether, 1,718 votes were cast.

The top six candidates were Kathie Grimm, Jonathan Kalkin, Frank Farance, Erin Feely-
Nahem, Fay Christian, and Howard Polivy. These individuals truly represent the diverse nature of Roosevelt Island and include a pediatrician, lawyer/entrepreneur, systems analyst, social worker (who runs a women’s shelter), teacher, and an actuary. Together they represent hundreds of years of Island residency and activism.

We applaud the results of this recommendation vote as a stunning example of civic activism and democracy in action, and we hope that you share in that sentiment. We hope that your Appointments Committee will soon be providing vetting materials to the Island’s preferred RIOC Board of Directors candidates.

We are very supportive of the process undetaken by our constituents and we request that you appoint the six winning candidates to the RIOC Board of Directors so, as set out by statute, they may be confirmed by the State Senate as swifty as possible.

Very truly yours,

Micah Z. Kellner Carolyn B. Maloney Jose M. Serrano Jessica S. Lappin
Assembly Member Member of Congress State Senator Council Member