The secretary of state’s office has a varied array of responsibilities, from overseeing elections to compliance with the public records law to enforcing the state’s securities law. Leading the office is a low-profile, often thankless task that requires broad managerial experience. Bill Galvin, the current secretary of state, has demonstrated such experience and is the best choice for the office.
Galvin, a Democrat, has served as secretary of state since 1995. His tenure has been marked by smooth management of elections and the implementation of policies making voting easier for residents of the Commonwealth, such as the distribution of ballots in languages other than English in communities with large immigrant populations.
He has also lead an aggressive pursuit of securities fraud. His office helped to prosecute the owners of TelexFree, a Marlborough company which allegedly ran a $1 billion pyramid scheme that preyed primarily on Brazilian and Dominican immigrants. And Galvin’s focus on public outreach as a means of preventing fraud before it happens is a smart approach. Scammers rely on misinformation, and educating people can be a much more effective remedy than complicated litigation after the fact.
Galvin’s tenure hasn’t been perfect. As the Globe reported recently, he awarded no-bid contracts for public service announcements to a firm that also worked on his reelection campaigns. Even though he isn’t required to do so by law, Galvin owes it to the public to conduct open bidding for contracts handled by his office.
Galvin’s Republican opponent, Malden city councilor at-large David D’Arcangelo, has built his campaign on reform of the state’s public records law. He should be applauded for focusing attention on the Commonwealth’s weak standards. And he’s right to press Galvin to enforce the exiting statutes more aggressively. However, the real problem is the way the law is written, and only the Legislature can add teeth to the provisions.