Sunday, November 09, 2008

City Council Vacancy

The 2008 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners election will leave open one seat on city council by virtue of a sitting council member having won a county board seat.

This vacated council seat will be filled according to state statute. Statute allows council to summarily appoint a member of their choosing from all of the public or submit a pool of candidates for the appointment to an administrative review process of their own design. They have chosen the latter and promise to give their full consideration to any and all comers.
N.C.G.S. §160A-63: "A vacancy that occurs in an elective office of a city shall be filled by appointment of the city council..."

Asheville City Charter, Sec. 7: "Any vacancy in the office of mayor or council shall be filled by the council for the remainder of the unexpired term from the qualified electors [a qualified voter in an election] of the City of Asheville."

N.C.G.S. §160A-60: "City councils shall have authority to fix qualifications for appointive offices..."
But does this general talent search not leave the other trailing candidates a bit in the lurch? -- Freeborn, Butner and Lite (in that order). Do they not have some standing in the whole affair that sets them apart from other possible late applicants? Have they not already established their qualifications to a substantial degree?

That Bryan Freeborn lost in the 2007 city council race is not just a function of votes cast but also of the seats available in the race. They were the constraint that would provide us the outcome in a democratic contest.

The votes measured the popularity of candidates for a seat and Mr. Freeborn simply came up shy. In the end, he was edged out by another candidate, Bill Russell, and the seats were filled. Had there been an additional seat open, Freeborn would have taken it by dint of a formal participatory public process.

A great number of voters, at least 5,505, -- and plenty more besides, can probably guess by now how Mr. Freeborn would respond in the questionnaire that council intends to distribute to the general public. And there is plenty of footage one can review to get a sense of his "contribution."

But why should the runners-up be placed into the general cue. Mr. Freeborn has already applied for the council seat in question and has received a substantial endorsement from the community in his pursuit of it. An endorsement that should at least curry some favor with the sitting council charged with filling a vacant seat in a volatile political season.

Mr. Freeborn achieved his electoral ranking by submitting to a fair and open process in the public arena. And the people have demonstrated their preferences in all recent candidates put before them (And Butner should be considered should Freeborn decline).

Council should reclaim leadership and, in as much as possible, respect the will of the people just this one more time and forgo this tedious and empty exercise that they taunt us with.


Application To Be On Asheville City Council
By Gordon Smith | Scrutiny Hooligans | November 5th, 2008
I’m listening to Matt Mittan getting frothy over City Council’s plan to choose a replacement for a vacated City Council seat by employing an application and interview process rather than using the fourth-highest-vote-getter precedent. Mittan’s objection is that the process is not democratic and that there ought to be an election instead.

Why Council should give Freeborn the open slot
Ashevegas | November 9, 2008
There's been a lot of discussion lately about Asheville City Council's decision to have local residents apply to be appointed to the seat that will be left open when Councilwoman Holly Jones moves over to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in December.

Election 2008 left potentially contentious loose ends
Editor | Asheville Citizen-Times | November 9, 2008
The 2008 General Election left two important seats in limbo, one on Buncombe County Board of Education and another on Asheville City Council.

Candidate: Bryan Freeborn
Staff report | Mountain Xpress | 10/03/2007
Political party: Democrat. Political experience: Asheville Regional Airport Authority; Young Democrats of Buncombe County; French Broad Metropolitan Planning Organization. Endorsements: Asheville Fire Fighters Association; Asheville Democracy for America; Sierra Club; Council member Robin Cape.

Freeborn requests recount of election results
Clarke Morrison | Asheville Citizen-Times | November 15, 2007
City Councilman Bryan Freeborn has requested a recount of the Nov. 6 election results, saying he doesn’t think it will change the outcome of the race, but he wants to make sure.