South Whidbey Record


EDITORIAL | Our choice for Langley’s mayor

February 16, 2013 · Updated 9:20 PM

For centuries newspapers in the Colonies, and then the United States of America, have been giving unsolicited advice to politicians. Such advice is seldom taken but it serves the purpose of driving public discussion of important matters, which, in turn, boosts public interest in the democratic process.

This is a good thing.

In this spirit, let us examine the vacant position of mayor of Langley. Five candidates have applied to fill the position. All will be interviewed in public next Tuesday evening. If all goes well a new mayor will be selected to serve until the November election, when the people will decide.

Those deciding who should be mayor should keep in mind the principles of the U.S. Constitution when dealing with the vacancy of the chief executive. The order of succession if the president dies or is incapacitated starts, of course, with the vice president, who was elected on the same ticket.

In the event the vice president can’t serve, the president would be the speaker of the House, and if the speaker too is unavailable, the job goes to the president pro tem of the U.S. Senate.

The guiding principle is that all are elected officials. The line of succession gets fuzzier after that, starting with appointees. The secretary of state is first on the long list. But chances of that ever happening are extremely remote. The Constitution assures that some elected official become president, barring an unimaginable catastrophe.

This too should guide Langley’s decision making. Two elected council members are in the running, Hal Seligson and Bruce Allen. None of the others has held elected office and would have no proven public support if appointed.

Therefore, let it be between Seligson and Allen. Of the two, Seligson has served longer; as mayor pro tem, he’s done a good job as the fill-in mayor; and he’s thoughtful, a strong proponent of open, ethical government, and works well with others.

With Seligson as mayor, Allen will still be on the council, continuing needed experience there.

If Seligson is appointed, there will be a vacancy on the council that needs to be filled. The other three in the running for mayor should, in reality, seek this open council seat. It will give them experience in city government and an opportunity to serve the public. And if they still want to be mayor, they can run for election in November.

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