According to this article in the Star Tribune, Hastings’ mayor plans to fill a void on the city council vacated by a councilmember leaving for a position as a Dakota County Commissioner by appointment. While legal, some within the city are voicing opposition to the plan calling for a more transparent process which may allow for others to apply for the position.
From the article:
Several Hastings officials are debating the wisdom of a plan to nominate a former council member to fill the City Council seat vacated by Mike Slavik’s election to the Dakota County Board.
Tom Bullington, a Planning Commission member, questioned whether the council should have sought applicants for the seat.
“There’s the appearance to some people, when you appoint a former council member, it looks like an inside deal,” Bullington said, adding he has nothing against Riveness. “I think we need to have as much appearance of openness and transparency as possible.”
Many cities, including Lakeville, are taking applications for vacated council seats. Applicants can be interviewed by the council, which then appoints the best candidate.
While appointing someone to a shortened term who had previously been a successful city councilmember (elected 6x) seems like a decent idea, especially when the council wants to continue working without much slowdown, allowing for open applications is the proper way to handle this situation. There is absolutely no reason why the mayor should be pushing so very hard for this appointment unless they feel it’s in their best political interests to do so (i.e. they’ll get the votes they need to pass favorable policy). The Hastings City Council should ignore the mayor’s desire and push for an open submission and nomination process and, if at the end of the day, the previous councilmember ends up being the right choice, so be it. However, simply appointing someone without canvassing the public is so very wrong on so many levels regardless of state law.
What do you think about this one? What if your mayor simply appointed someone to the council without allowing for anyone to throw their name into the hat? What would you say about it? Do you think state law should be changed to limit council power in this regard? Do you think the mayor is up to something shady politically here? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.