Starks backed by US civil rights group for FCC chairman seat

Starks backed by US civil rights group for FCC chairman seat

19 January 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

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Geoffrey Starks, a commissioner at theĀ Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has been backed by a racial justice group for the role of chairman of the FCC.

The news comes as current chairman, Ajit Pai announced plans to resign from the role back in November, with his last day being 20 January when President Trump is to officially leave office.

In a statement at the time Pai said, “It has been the honour of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years.  I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me.  To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege.”

“Together, we’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety.”

Color of Change, civil rights advocacy group in the US, said that it is supporting Starks for the role given his advocacy for Black communities in the past.

Having joined in 2019, Starks serves as a junior to fellow Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who is touted as frontrunner to succeed Pai as FCC Chairman.

Should she be named by President-elect Biden as chair, she would make history as the first woman named FCC chair, aside from Mignon Clyburn who served as acting chairwoman in 2013.

According to Bloomberg, Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change, sent an emailed statement saying that Starks “has demonstrated and recently reaffirmed his commitment to digital equity. The Biden-Harris Administration must ensure that regulatory agencies like the FCC are steered by people who reflect the communities most impacted by the policy decisions they dictate.”

Frontrunner Rosenworcel also has her share of backing with the Communications Workers Union of America confirming its support in December 2020, as well as the National Education Association, with written support from its president, Becky Pringle.

In an emailed statement, Pringle said: Rosenworcel’s “long-standing work to close the digital divide and help connect students for education makes her the right choice to lead the FCC right now. She has championed providing all students internet access no matter who they are or where they live.”