The side door to the Council

Interesting Roger Phillips story on aspirants who gain a Council seat by appointment, as opposed to by winning elections.

I can’t suggest a structural remedy — outlawing early resignation in the Charter is probably illegal — but  a council candidate can be asked during the campaign of s/he will pledge to serve out their term before seeking higher office. That would make resigning politically awkward.

Though appointment is referred to in the story as “the lesser of two evils” (the other being a costly special election) this process seems to be working well enough. Elbert Holman was an appointee, and he turned out to be a very good council member.

The problem would be if a bad but politically adept mayor managed to sway a bloc of loyal council members to appoint another baddie — defining “baddie” here as a council member who is merely loyal to the mayor, but lacks skill in running the city, or who puts special interests over the general public. But we have it within our power to control such figures at the ballot box.

One thing Council members should perhaps do is spell out publicly and in detail why they thought their selection boasted the best qualifications; and equally why the other candidates fell short. Such transparency should dispel any back room smoke.

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