The DANC board voted unanimously to install Sen. James Wright as Executive Director. I'm not surprised that he was appointed, but I am surprised by the unanimous selection.
Current members of the DANC board have stated that they do not want to politicize the Authority, and they ask county boards of legislature to keep that in mind when making appointments. With their choice of Jim Wright, the DANC board has fully politicized their work. Regardless of resume, Wright's selection has taken an organization that was built to promote the economic well-being of Northern New York and given the perception that it is a political spoil.
On more of a personal note, I have never spoken with Sen. Wright, despite the position I have and the fact that he was my State Senator.
I attended the announcement that General Motors was "idling" their plant in Massena. Senator Wright was also in attendance, as was Gov. Spitzer, Lt. Gov. Paterson, Senator Griffo, Assemblyman Aubertine and Assemblywoman Scozzafava. Each official spoke about the closing and what his or her office would be doing. Most of them seemed involved during the announcement.
Except for Senator Wright.
He seemed to be text messaging constantly. I don't know what it was about. Maybe he was keeping in touch with the CEO of GM, or he was proposing legislation for Congressman McHugh to bring forward about job losses in the age of free trade agreements. Or maybe he was in touch with his office about trivial matters or concerns in other areas of his district. I don't know.
I know that announcement was important to the families of 500 people who were losing their jobs in Massena. It was important to a community that had seen its manufacturing base decrease by two-thirds in the last thirty years. And it was important to have an elected official treat them as if they were important, at least for the few hours that he devoted to them specifically during his many years of public service.
And so, I am nervous, that St. Lawrence County, who is relying on DANC to help rebuild what has been lost, will be overlooked. That the Republican Wright will overlook the Democratic majority in the Legislature. That Wright, who has served Jefferson County well in the past, before becoming a State Senator, will continue to primarily serve Jefferson County in his position after being a State Senator.
Even with all of that, I pray to God that he succeeds, because if he does, then life will be better for everyone in this area.