By Colin Walsh
Please pick the side of Democracy.
Tonight, the City Council has the opportunity to set in motion their own private pick of the successor to Lucas Frerichs for the District 3 Council seat, or they can side with democracy and let voters decide.
I can certainly understand the temptation to save money and sidestep elections and appoint their selected candidate (likely Donna Neville). After all, the council all endorsed each other and almost always votes together. Even our newest council member Bapu Vaitla arrives as a consummate insider with strong relationships with the other council members. I mean really the Davis power clique has dominated the last elections and has every reason to believe their handpicked appointment would win in an election anyway. After all – the inside candidates dominate in fundraising, endorsements, and opportunities in all recent council elections.
The mechanism for picking might look like this - we would probably see the Council set in motion a process where they would pick the pickers. The council could appoint a committee to go through the process of interviewing and evaluating candidates and then pick exactly the same person the council would pick. After all, the council would surely pick the pickers that would pick the council’s pick of choice anyway - all while the voters of district 3 would be left picking their noses.
But maybe district 3 would vote differently than the power clique prefers. They certainly should have a chance to pick for themselves.
Some argue precedent, that the council has picked replacements candidates in the past, but things are different now with district elections. All of the current council members are elected by voters from specific districts and not by district 3 voters. District 3 voters deserve the chance to pick their own council person without interference from the candidates representing the other districts.
Even if the council chooses an election sometime in the future, but picks an interim council member, it amounts to the biggest endorsement they can give providing a very unfair advantage to their pick in the election. Better to leave the seat open until the voters of District 3 can vote democratically for the council member to fill the remaining term that Frerichs has left behind. Frankly if district 3 voters are upset about not being represented for a period of time, they should send their complaints to Frerichs who abandoned his council seat mid term for a better paying gig.
Let’s face it, the council has been voting in lockstep on just about every major issue for years now. A vacancy for a few months is not going to make a big difference in outcome. Especially considering the lockstep council would likely just pick another person to join them in lockstep.
Or maybe the council will pick democracy and district 3 can pick the next council person to represent them. One can hope.