The right candidate for the job?
The most reliable qualification for political candidates now seems to be celebrity. Rather than acknowledge such a feckless standard, political pundits tend to identify this qualification as “name recognition.” But who would reasonably assert that Donald Trump would have had much chance of being elected president without a false image of him being established by the successful television program “The Apprentice?”
Political polls indicate that many citizens have lost confidence in the U.S. Congress. However, the people expect those in more local elections — governor and mayor — to appoint those qualified to execute beneficial programs. There is one office that requires special qualifications, and the voters alone have to determine which of the candidates is most likely to serve the public interests the best. That post is district attorney.
Prior to the election of Rachael Rollins as Suffolk County district attorney, there was a standard, unimaginative manner of prosecuting criminal violations. Rollins implemented change that aroused community interest in that office. Her assistant DAs were directed to resolve misdemeanors and petty offenses without prosecution. This released time and resources to investigate major crimes and examine challenges to past convictions. This new approach created a more positive attitude among Blacks to this criminal justice system.
The Suffolk district attorney now faces great challenges. Youth are becoming delinquent at an earlier age. The Boston Globe reported that 13-year-old youngsters and an 11-year-old attacked elderly pedestrians recently in Downtown Boston. Under the 2018 state reform law, children younger than 12 cannot be arrested or prosecuted for any crime. Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden has set aside available funds to help criminal diversion of warranted youth.
Hayden has also established a plan, in cooperation with acting Boston Police Commissioner Gregory Long and James M. Ferguson of the Boston office of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to curtail illegal gun trafficking. Hayden has made it clear that his focus is not the scared “youth who believes he needs to carry a gun for protection.” Two ATF agents and two Boston police detectives have joined Hayden’s crime strategies bureau to focus on arresting gun traffickers.
Kevin Hayden has certainly not been idle since he was called in by the governor to replace Rollins, who was appointed U.S. attorney for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Hayden has continued policies established by Rollins and has added some strategies of his own. He is a consummate attorney with little celebrity.
Ricardo Arroyo has decided to compete for the post of Suffolk district attorney. He has been an effective political activist in Boston for several years. Clearly, he has some political clout because he was able to induce endorsements from the state’s two U.S. senators and from Mayor Wu even before he has disclosed the specific benefits he plans to provide for Suffolk County residents.
Arroyo is indeed a respected member of Boston’s multi-ethnic political team, but one wonders whether he is trying out for the right position. While Arroyo is a lawyer, Rollins and Hayden are both considered to be especially talented with skills that will be helpful in efforts to change society’s attitudes toward crime and rehabilitation.
Many Blacks now consider the district attorney office to be a post that demands superior legal skills. The question for Arroyo, then, is not whether he wins or loses an election, but whether he jeopardizes the celebrity he has acquired over the years.