The Niagara Falls City Council is receiving harsh backlash after voting to hire Mark Diodate as their new administrative assistant/secretary. Mr. Diodate, who was ranked in each of the councilman’s top-five candidates for the position, was under fire for his lack of experience in the field.

The position, which was posted online and received many applications, resulted in eight interviews, and the top pick was ultimately chosen by consensus among the councilman. A pertinent section of the job description stated that the job included “difficult administrative, clerical, and public contact work that involved responsibility for independently performing complex clerical operations.”

While voting on the position during the meeting, Councilman Ezra Scott stated that “he was a very strong candidate. Passionate. Has a hunger and really wants this position.”

Mark Diodate and wife Lindsey.

Councilman Tompkins, however, did not share Councilman Scott’s enthusiasm. “As I sit here on the council tonight, I am sad and disappointed by what I see happening with this position. Instead of doing what’s best for the taxpayers and hiring the person best qualified to do the job, we hired someone based on the old ‘who you know’ or ‘who cut a deal’ system. While I know this man to be a decent man and a great father, his work history and experience do not match what we need for this role.”

Council Chairman Andrew Touma stated, “the person who is on our resolution tonight was a top-five candidate from all of us. He impressed all of us in the interview and has a lot of private sector skills. He did a great job. It was a tough decision because we could have hired several of those folks that were there, but obviously like a draft you have your top – five and you pick the one that the majority agree with.”

Given the difference in opinion over his qualifications, it is important to look at the realistic job responsibilities of an administrative assistant/secretary in the council office. They likely include, but are certainly not limited to, answering phone calls from residents, being personable, working together with all five councilmen, typing up resolutions, and communicating with other employees at City Hall. Although experience may help the transition to undertake some obligations easier, it certainly does not disqualify someone the same way it would if a license or degree was required for the job.

Should the fact that someone has only been a cashier at McDonalds preclude them from applying for a retail position at Nike? Should the fact someone was just admitted as a new attorney prevent them from accepting a case because they have not technically represented anyone before?

The answer to both of those questions is “no,” which means the fact that someone has never previously held an administrative assistant or secretary position shouldn’t stop them from being hired as one.

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