During his State of the State Address on January 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the nomination of President Mark D. Gearan as Chair of the New York State Gaming Commission. A few days later, the editors of the Finger Lakes Times published an opinion piece expressing their support for President Gearan’s nomination.
The editors pointed to, “…Gearan’s traits that make him the perfect choice for this position, those characteristics by which people in Geneva and the Colleges’ community have come to know him. He is thoughtful, determined, respected. He is passionate about the causes in which he believes, particularly public service. He is respectful.”
In its coverage of the State of the State Address, a Rochester Business Journal article noted, “Cuomo, during his annual State of the State Address in Albany, cited Gearan’s breadth of experience as the reason for his appointment to the New York State Gaming Commission position.”
With extensive credentials in public policy, he served as Director of the Peace Corps and was Assistant to the President, Director of Communications and Deputy Chief of Staff in the White House. Outside of the education and service arenas, Gearan is an appointee of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform. The national commission focuses on policy recommendations on electoral system reform, congressional reform and encouragement of greater public service. He is a former member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, a group of cross-sector leaders appointed by President Barack Obama to recommend collaborative solutions to increase civic engagement. In the upstate region, Gearan serves on the advisory councils of the Happiness House Foundation, Ontario ARC and the Geneva Community Center, and is a founding member of Geneva 2020, a collective impact initiative designed to assist the Geneva City School District on key initiatives including increasing the graduation rate and improving career and college readiness.
More information about the nomination is available on the Daily Update. The Finger Lakes Times piece follows.
Finger Lakes Times
OUR OPINION: Gearan the right choice for commission
January 12, 2014
We are certain that Mark Gearan’s 10-plus years in academia have not erased from his memory how things work in the world of politics.
But if they had, he received a refresher course last week.
Gearan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ erudite and gracious president since 1999, was named Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to head up the state’s gaming commission.
As with anything political, whether it’s from Washington or Albany – or even downtown Lyons – no sooner did the words come out of Cuomo’s mouth than the critiques began. An article in the Albany Times-Union took a swipe at Gearan, saying that when a reporter approached him, he seemed more “focused on catching up with his friend and fellow Clinton White House veteran, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to shake his hand.”
More pertinent, the article also noted that Gearan said he doesn’t gamble much, doesn’t know the four other members of the commission, all appointed by Cuomo, and “seemed unfamiliar with the industry.”
What the article seemed to miss are Gearan’s traits that make him the perfect choice for this position, those characteristics by which people in Geneva and the Colleges’ community have come to know him. He is thoughtful, determined, respected. He is passionate about the causes in which he believes, particularly public service. He is respectful.
“One of the best personnel decisions I have made as President was to appoint Mark Gearan as the director of the Peace Corps,” President Clinton once gushed. “I believe he has been one of the most successful directors since President Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961.”
No, he may not know much about the gaming industry – yet – but he will.
The commission’s primary charge is going to be deciding where four new, voter-approved, economy-driving casinos can be built in three upstate areas. Certain Seneca County officials – who are lobbying for a $350 million casino/resort in Tyre – doubtless were thrilled to hear of Gearan’s appointment, speculating it may benefit their cause.
Here are a couple of other things we know about the new commission chairman: He is level-headed and fair. Recognizing the enormity of the task – and the automatic jump-start that any area that lands a casino will receive – he and his commission will be deliberate, meticulous and unswayed by the political wrangling that is sure to follow. Their decisions will be reasoned.
The governor did not settle for a roll of the dice on this important position. He made a prudent choice.