South Whidbey Record


EDITORIAL | Mayor selection process on track

February 9, 2013 · Updated 3:42 PM

The City of Langley is finally on the right track in selecting a new mayor to replace Larry Kwarsick, but questions remain.

It didn’t seem right that the two City Council members in the running, Hal Seligson and Bruce Allen, could interview the others and vote for themselves. This advice from the city’s attorney (Brice Disend, not partner Mike Kenyon as reported Wednesday) was short-lived, and a new policy now makes more sense.

When the five mayoral candidates are interviewed in public Feb. 19, Seligson and Allen will be treated like the others. They will have to leave their council seats, join the other candidates and answer inquires directed at them by the three council members who don’t want to be mayor: Rene Neff, Doug Allderdice and Jim Sundberg.

It only makes sense that Seligson and Allen not be allowed to vote at all, as the conflict of interest would be obvious. Therefore the three council members not in the running will pick the new mayor.

This raises another question, so far unanswered. If the three unanimously agree on who should be the mayor there’s no problem, as three votes constitute a majority of the entire council. But what if there’s a split decision? The vote could be 2-1. In that instance, a minority of the total council would make the decision, and that doesn’t seem right either.

One theory is that a majority of the three-member quorum is all that will be needed to select a new mayor. Even if true, what if the vote isn’t 2-1, but rather 1-1-1.

In that case, it’s possible no mayor would be selected. Alas, that doesn’t mean taxpayers won’t have to pay $53,000 a year for a mayor who doesn’t exist. It would just mean that the decision would go to the next level of government, meaning the Island County commissioners.

No doubt this is a hot potato the commissioners would not want tossed their way. But it reminds us that local politics sure is interesting, isn’t it?

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