RIOC Election

There is no set schedule for election of resident nominees to the RIOC Board of Directors.  Four elections have been held, each on an ad hoc basis (listed below).  The two most recent elections were held in 2012. However, the resulting nominees were not subsequently appointed to serve on the RIOC Board by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The appointments of all current directors have expired and one seat is vacant. 

The following is an overview of the history and circumstances of elections to the RIOC Board. The most recent Nomination form (two pages) is in the Files under RIOC Elections.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) is responsible for the management of Roosevelt Island (except for the Cornell NYC Tech and Coler Hospital sites).

The RIOC Board has nine members.  Two are New York State officers:  the Commissioner of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (who chairs the RIOC Board) and the Director of the Budget Division.  There are seven public members, who are appointed by the Governor with Senate approval.

Since 1997, Roosevelt Islanders have sought an amendment of the 1984 legislation creating RIOC (posted below), to bring democratic governance to the community by requiring direct election of residents to the seven public seats.

In 2002, with the concurrence of then-Governor George Pataki, the 1984 law was amended to require that a minimum of five of the seven public members be residents.

In 2007, early in Governor Eliot Spitzer's administration, Islanders were offered the opportunity to hold elections in order to provide names of residents for the Governor to consider for appointment to the Board.  (There was no guarantee then, or for any subsequent election, that any of the community nominees would be appointed.)

The first such nominating election was held February 5, 2008.  In June 2008 and May 2009, four of the resulting community-elected nominees were appointed by then-Governor David Paterson.  (Also, an unelected resident incumbent was reappointed.) All seven public Board members were now residents, and four were community nominees.

The next nominating election was May 19, 2009.  Two of the resulting nominees were appointed by Governor Paterson in January 2010.  All seven public members of the Board were residents, and six had now been elected by the community.

In June 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo replaced an elected resident Board member whose appointment had just expired with an unelected non-resident.

On February 7, 2012, the third election was held, to nominate residents for three other seats with expired appointments.  The election results were conveyed by letter to Governor Cuomo.  No appointments resulted, and the incumbents have remained in their seats.  (Two had been re-elected.)

The fourth election was held November 6, 2012, for three seats whose appointments would expire in 7-8 months.  Again, the election results were conveyed by letter to Governor Cuomo. Again, no appointments have resulted and the incumbents have remained in their seats.  (One had been re-elected.)

In February 2013, the unelected non-resident Board member who was appointed in June 2011 resigned.  The seat has remained vacant.

In June 2013, a followup letter (posted below) was sent to Governor Cuomo, reminding him of the two 2012 elections and the resulting six nominees, and also suggesting that the vacant seventh seat be filled by the November election's next-highest-vote-getter, a previously-elected incumbent.

Given the lack of gubernatorial response to the two 2012 elections and the followup correspondence, and the existing roster of seven community-proposed nominees (including four incumbents and one previously-elected member) for the seven expired-appointment/vacant seats, no further elections have been held.

In a political environment with a receptive Governor, the ideal RIOC Board election schedule would be biennial (in conjunction with the even-year November RIRA elections), anticipating the May-June-July appointment expirations by approximately six months, and coordinating with the annual January-June Senate session.  (The Board terms are four years, and there would be a three-member/four-member alternation of appointment expirations.  Two expirations would need to be adjusted to align with this schedule.)

A legislative mandate for direct resident elections would be even better than a receptive Governor.  However, a receptive Governor would have to sign such an amendment of the existing legislation, thereby depriving Governors of the power to make the appointments.

Also posted below is a comprehensive table of the RIOC Board elections, appointments, terms, and members, starting with the first election in 2008.  (It also shows the two appointment-expiration adjustments needed to fit a biennial November election schedule.)

Ann Biddlecom,
Nov 7, 2012, 2:03 PM