Betty King, one of two special assistants appointed by Mayor Marion Barry to monitor city boards and commissions, is not new to the work.
As a former coordinator of the D.C. Coalition for Women's Appointments, King has lobbied successfully to have women and residents from the less affluent areas of the city appointed to numerous advisory boards and commissions.
"When we won the primary, and the transition team was being set up, I wrote to the mayor-elect and drew his attention to this troublesome area," King said. After the general election she was, predictably, appointed as special assistant of boards and commissions.
"I didn't start from ground zero on this. In fact, I've been complaining a number of years that it wasn't equitable. Now I have the opportunity to fix it."
No reliable information exists on just how many boards and commissions are operating in the District, King said. Estimates range from 120 to 60, with about 1,850 people holding paid and voluntary positions that affect or influence policy in such diverse areas as the way city elections are run to how the D.C. criminal justice system operates. About 400 to 500 vacancies occur annually from resignations or expired terms. King's job will be to monitor the offices and help fill vacancies.
"The city is crowded with people who know a great deal about a great many things," King said. Yet, "There have been some persistent complaints about an an imbalance on the commissions. We hope to open up the whole process of nominations to the public and make certain that everybody's interests are represented."
King, 46, is an active member of the D.C. Women's Political Caucus and was Barry's director of special events during the mayoral campaign She has been a member of the Democratic State Committee and the D.C. coordinating committee for International Women's Year.
King, who lives in Georgetown, has worked as a professional administrator in the United States and abroad for 25 years.