NYC’s mayoral picks reflect diversity in top posts

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter on Sunday when he was named as the city's new corporation counsel.

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter on Sunday when he was named as the City’s new Corporation Counsel.

By Carmen Glover

When Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is sworn in officially as New York City’s mayor tonight at midnight and again at noon on New Year’s Day, he will do so while having some semblance of a diverse team in place, based on his most recent appointments. African-American former U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn Zachary Carter, 63, has been named as the latest corporation counsel and Latina Carmen Farina has left retirement at age 70 to serve as the schools chancellor, joining another Latina, Gladys Carrion, 62, the new ACS commissioner.  Bill Bratton, 66, has returned for a second go-around as police commissioner and joins first deputy mayor Anthony Shorris, 56, whose appointment was announced by de Blasio a few weeks ago.

Former educator Carmen Farina left retirement to accept the post of Schools Chancellor.

Former educator Carmen Farina, shown flanked by students, left retirement to accept the post of Schools Chancellor.

Although far more posts remain unfilled than filled, the inclusion of individuals from different ethnic groups, who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, is a positive first step to the new mayoral administration. So far, de Blasio seems to be making cautious but sure steps to ensure that his appointments reflect the diversity of the city’s residents. Also, de Blasio’s statements in announcing the appointments have been encouraging.

Anthony Shorris was named the new first deputy mayor a few weeks ago.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio greets Anthony Shorris, who was named the new first deputy mayor a few weeks ago.

While announcing that Carter will be the new corporation counsel de Blasio expressed his commitment to closing an open wound in the city’s psyche by resolving the Central Park Jogger suit. Acknowledging that an “injustice” occurred, causing five innocent African-American and Latino boys to serve long prison sentences for raping a white jogger before DNA evidence cleared them, de Blasio said he would “settle the Central Park case.” For his part, Carter vowed to use the law “to level the playing field” for all groups.

Gladys Carrion, former chief of the State's Office of Children and Families (OCSF) is now the City's new ACS Commissioner.

New York city’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio shares a light moment with, Gladys Carrion, former chief of the State’s Office of Children and Families (OCSF), after announcing that she is  the City’s new ACS Commissioner.

Farina, whose appointment was made yesterday, had a lot to say. She spoke firmly about embracing a “progressive” agenda focused on “teaching not testing.” Farina, who has 40 years of experience in the city school system spanning every level from elementary school teacher to deputy commissioner in the Bloomberg administration, spoke about the need to do things differently.

“We are going to communicate often,” she said, while explaining that her philosophy on teaching versus testing is rooted in the belief that “If we do good teaching that’s the best test prep.” It appeared as if Farina, an immigrant from Spain, was not particularly interested in data-driven results, which could be problematic since data is critical to assessing the performance of students and educators alike. But her passion for education was undeniable, as was Carter’s quiet confidence, born from being a seasoned legal eagle. It remains to be seen if the full menu of de Blasio’s appointments will elicit praise or cause concern but the list so far makes the process seem promising.

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