Looking At The Process For Selecting A New Councilor

Los Alamos

I hope that Aaron Walker will seriously consider running for County Council during the next election that includes a seat on Council. As I said in my email to Council, Mr. Walker has knowledge of County procedures and the ability to communicate with constituents having diverse opinions. He is an excellent active listener, a problem solver, and he is professionally articulate when stating disagreement with a proposed project.

I appreciate that Chair Randall Ryti presented the number of emails in support of each of the candidates for the open seat and that his vote reflected the documented requests of his constituents. The votes of the other Councilors raised some questions.

First, I have heard the statement that constituents give private verbal feedback. However, in this instance, the credible, accountable means to state our preference was via an email to Council. How many people talked privately, and were they the routine social contacts of a Councilor?

Second, I have heard a Councilor state that his/her vote could reflect that s/he has more knowledge about some issues than a constituent might have. That is very likely true, but I believe the Councilor’s duty would include publicly sharing that knowledge with constituents. I would like to know what knowledge any of the Councilors had regarding the vote for the vacant seat. Failure to share knowledge creates suspicion of voting by one’s personal agenda rather than by voter representation.

Third, if we are to have a democratic government by representation rather than by the “leadership” model, I would like to see a change in the rules by which vacated Councilor seats are filled. Without the need for the expense and process of a special election every time a Councilor feels the need to leave, we need an official process whereby voters have the opportunity to make the selection. For example, if everyone knew that emails to Council would become the deciding factor, more people would have incentive to make their choices known. Alternatively, an electronic survey could become the process for selection. We already use it for expensive decisions that affect our community’s future.

I would like to know why each Councilor chose to vote in the manner that occurred. What is it that each one knew that the rest of us did not know?