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  • Last modified 978 days ago (Jan. 20, 2016)

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Give democracy a chance

This spring’s election of two city council members and impending resignation of a third make it even more important for citizens to consider making themselves available as candidates.

With a clear majority of council seats up for grabs, voters have a unique opportunity to end once and for all divisiveness that has seen the city flit confusingly in different directions rather than chart a clear, widely accepted path to the future.

As letter writer Gerry Henderson notes, it is entirely Chad Adkins’ call as to whether he will resign before city elections or afterward, and it is entirely the council’s call whom to appoint to replace him. Any council member – not just the mayor – may nominate a candidate, and the full council will vote.

Charter ordinances make it unclear exactly which parts of state law apply, but there appears to be no provision to appoint a council member to serve only that portion of an unexpired term that exists before the next election. There is, however, a way that Adkins and the council could achieve that objective if they choose to reaffirm their faith in and support for the American democratic system.

If Adkins were to resign effective Election Day, the council could vote to fill his position with whichever candidate ends up getting the third highest vote total in the two-seat race, essentially making it an election for three seats instead of just two.

With this clear understanding in place before the election, the power to determine who leads the city could return to the people who by democratic tradition should exercise it: the voters. With voters making the choice, there could be no allegations of backroom dealings or cronyism, and citizens would know that their votes would actually mean something, impacting the entire balance of power on the council. And that, in turn, should encourage more qualified candidates and greater public participation.

It’s a win-win situation for the city and for democracy. All it requires is that Adkins and the council show faith in the voters of the city and leave the task of filling his seat up to the voters rather than try to run everything themselves.

If they do, those whose favorite pastime is sniping at city government will no longer have an excuse. With the balance of power up for grabs, it’s either toss your hat in the ring or put up and shut up for the next two to six years.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified Jan. 20, 2016

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