Kudos go out to the Antioch City Council who chose last night to make an appointment for the empty City Council seat via application process versus a straight appointment based off election results. Mayor Wade Harper, and councilmembers Mary Rocha, Monica Wilson and Gary Agopian voted unanimously Tuesday to accept applications for the remaining two years of the seat left open after Harper was sworn in as mayor.
Applicants now have a week to get their applications in along with 30 signatures and financial statements. On December 18, applicants will be allowed to make a brief public statement no greater than 3-minutes. This is open to any Antioch resident.
According to the Contra Costa Times, former Mayors James Davis and Donald Freitas will be applying while city council candidates Walter Ruehlig and Noel Pinto are undecided.
While some will say this is “2008 again” and because the council chose to bypass James Davis like they did Arne Simonsen. I disagree.
One does not pick someone just because they finished next in line during an election. An appointment is done off of merits, beliefs, the dynamics of the council, and the direction one wants to go. It’s not a popularity contest in an appointment process, its about choosing a direction a council wants to go. After all, its the council voters put in place to make this decision.
Some claim the council needed to listen to the “will of the people” which is very misguided use of the term. To truly listen to the will of the people, Antioch would have to go the route of a costly special election. Besides, who gets to decide who “the people are” when not everyone gets to vote. If one really wants to break this down, lets break it down. During the most recent election, residents were able to vote for two people (Rocha and Wilson won). The “will of the people” did not choose Davis. So now people want to use this “will of the people” and throw out the majority of Antioch who didn’t vote for Davis to appoint him.
A hypothetical special election would also not guarantee Davis would even win–Freitas is also no lock. Throw these two into a new field and maybe residents want another candidate now that the Rocha and Wilson votes are back in play. Who knows what would happen.
That is why the council that the “will of the people” actually voted in get to make this decision on the peoples behalf. This is a great thing for Antioch as it opens the door for those who did not run for the seat to have an opportunity to apply. The naysayers will continue to chirp, but the Council made the right call.
By Michael Burkholder