Amid two dozen applicants for the position held until her retirement by East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Elaine Lamb, the public surely expected that the council would find someone with qualifications in elections and their management.
The “who you know” principle of familiarity with council members apparently wasn’t a governing criteria for the job.
Metro Council members split on candidates Bones Addison, the former council member, and Stephen Raborn, a former registrar in Fort Worth who had previously worked 13 years in the Baton Rouge office. After the first vote deadlocked, Councilman Ryan Heck switched to Raborn, naming him to the post.
Lamb’s office is one that the people know pretty well, in part because it has worked so well. Nat Bankston was registrar for decades, and Lamb herself worked in the office for decades more before her retirement. It manages early voting as well as the voter rolls. The former has been a big hit by making it easier to cast ballots.
The office should be above politics, as it is the keeper of the keys, the voter rolls.
In the hothouse atmosphere of city hall — and it’s probably true in many cities, not just Baton Rouge — the very notion of qualifications tends to blur with familiarity and political connection. That should not be a barrier to Addison or others competing for public jobs, but where a candidate has better qualifications, that ought to be the deciding factor.
We congratulate Raborn and wish him well in the post.