Serving the public through political office is supposed to be a selfless act. Yet why does it feel like so much of what we see in politics seems to be selfish?
Everything occurs in degrees, of course, but we see a common thread of selfishness with what is going on at the Brawley City Council and with Calexico’s two elected bodies, the City Council and the school board.
One seems like an accidental byproduct of the circumstances of replacing a councilman, while the other appears to be a blatant disregard for the process of governance and for the constituents. We’ll let you guess which one is which by the time we finish here.
Regardless, the voters of Brawley and the voters of Calexico are in a bind either way you look at it. As both cities are faced with replacing lost elected officials, their options are limited — costly special elections or council appointments.
In the larger scheme of things, neither is a good option. Cities across the state are going broke, doing more with less, cutting expenses, services and in many places people. Brawley has already chosen to appoint to fill a council vacancy left by Ryan Kelley, who won election to the county Board of Supervisors in June. A special election would have cost the city $12,000.
Presumably, that will be a similar cost faced by Calexico in trying to determine what to do with either a school board seat vacated by Joong Kim or his newly won council seat if he chooses to stay on the school board.
Neither situation had to occur like this, and we believe both elected officials in question could have made the transition easier for their respective governmental bodies and voters.
We understand it is ridiculous to assume that a politician would resign from one seat before being elected to another, but it’s not unheard of. In Kelley’s case, both he and councilman Sam Couchman were running for the county board. Both had to stay during their race.
But the election was in June, and Kelley won handily. He should have resigned then, allowing Brawley ample time to put a much cheaper version of a special election on the November ballot.
Instead, he stayed, and now he’s gone, about a month away from his swearing-in at the county.
For Calexico, Kim won’t say definitely whether he will take his council seat he won in November, or stay on the school board. He wants to do both, and claims he is being advised he can.
He’s being selfish, yes, but in the worst possible way. He’s leaving both bodies hanging in the wind, clueless of the process and the voters who voted for him, well, we wonder if they understand what he’s doing. He seems to have set the stage for contentious politicking no matter the issue.
Although no one wants the responsibility of saying it, the attorney general’s office has issued an opinion that serving on both boards is incompatible. Obviously.
The city and the school district have various agreements in place in which both make decisions. Both also can be dependent on each other in certain instances. This is bad all around.
In both cities’ cases, the public has to take its lumps and settle for appointments. We tell the public to vote — and as politicians, we ask them for their vote — then in these situations it all gets cast aside and the choice is taken out of the public’s hands.
Appointments are injurious to the democratic process. But what’s left when you’re trying to be careful with the taxpayers’ dollar? There are no winners … except for the politicians acting in their own best interests.
Bodies in Calexico and Brawley face appointments to their boards.
Appointments rob the public of the democratic process; it doesn’t always have to be that way.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
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