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The fundamental underpinnings of our democracy is the right to vote for the candidates of our choice. When someone whom we have elected cannot continue in the elected position, it becomes the responsibility of an elected official or officials to appoint a replacement.
This procedure is normally defined in a document such as the federal or state constitution or a city or county charter.
In Los Alamos County the charter simply says the council should choose someone to fill the position.
The current council first wanted to set up an “application” process whereby they would judge who might be the “best person” to fill the vacant seat based upon some undefined criteria. That process can never work because the only qualifications for Council is being a registered voter and not working for the county. When that failed, the council voted to leave it to the incoming council.
I strongly disagree with the following from an editorial in the Los Alamos Monitor: “They should ask leaders, the parties and important groups. They must remember that their decision here is not being done in a vacuum, that we all have a vested interest in how this proceeds.”
Who are these leaders, parties, and important groups who should have more say over the replacement councilor than the voters? Who has more right to evaluate the choices than the voters? Who is ultimately responsible for the make up of the council but the voters? Look very carefully at those who are supporting this method for some are the very ones who believed that because of their length of service to the community, their opinions should bear more weight than others.
What the Monitor wrote implied that some in the county are more equal than others and thus should have more of a say in who is selected to fill the vacancy. This from a newspaper whose very right to existence and to publish whatever foolish idea it wants to publish is protected by our Constitution is incredible.
Perhaps to aid in the selection, the Monitor should run an opinion poll on its webpage since the entire selection process, no matter how carefully some believe it will be thought out, will turn into a secret popularity contest.
The vested interest we should have is that the two candidates who were not elected should be the only two considered unless neither wants to serve.
There should be no “process” because there can never be a process that supplants the voter. It’s too bad that our current council has forgotten that it owes its very existence to the voters, not to “leaders, the parties and important groups.”