Though the White Plains Common Council unanimously selected a new council member at Wednesday’s special meeting—they were, in a rare occurrence, divided on who should be the next council president.
The council voted 5-2 for Councilman Benjamin Boykin as the council's new president. Council Members Milagros Lecuona and David Buchwald voted for Lecuona.
The position of council president pays $39,000, or $2,500 more than a council person, according to The Journal News. The council president presides over the council in the absence of the mayor. According to Lecuona, there are no actual duties of the council president, and the role is more like a title.
“I am next in line based on the protocol I was told existed,” said Lecuona, at the meeting. “I was told not once, but twice there was a protocol in place.”
Lecuona—who said she was told that a rotation is used to select the president—said she inquired on how the procedure works, but didn’t get a response from the mayor’s office. Roach said he responded to Lecuona’s email by referring her to the city clerk, and did not get a follow up response for any questions from her regarding the matter.
“It seems interesting to me, now that it’s my term there isn’t such a protocol,” said Lecuona. “I am fighting this, not because it's so important to be president—because its a matter of principal and double standards.”
Boykin explained that the city charter says the council votes at their first meeting in January on who the next president will be. He said that the city's history does not show a rotation of council presidents: Councilwoman Rita Malmud was council president from 2000-01 and 2006-07; Boykin from 2002-03 and 08-09; and Roach from 2004-05 and 2010-11.
“I plan to work with each and every council person here on the council,” said Boykin.
Power said that if there was a protocol, it was never followed.
“I was told there was a protocol, and if there isn’t such a protocol—it is pretty clear we need one, because the lack of process in the system is really allowing for self-promotion and is really not in the best interest of the city,” said Lecuona.
Roach said that he disagrees with Lecuona that a rotation is better for the city.
“I think a vote is the more democratic way to handle it,” said Roach.
Both Boykin and Lecuona are up for election in November. Dennis Power's seat is up, however, he will not be seeking another term. Councilman John Martin will also run in the election to fill the remainder of his term until 2013.