Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CityBeat on City Council Appointments

CityBeat has a great cover story this week on the subject of City Council appointments (here is the weird "print version" of the article online: ).

Ever since the introduction of term limits in 1999, this provision of the city charter has gained in popularity amongst outgoing City Council members. If a councilmember leaves their seat for any reason, they may select other Council members to choose a replacement to fill their seat. This gives any appointed member a big advantage in elections over other challengers that may have wanted to fill the vacant seat.

Republican councilmember Leslie Ghiz has proposed a charter amendment to help deal with this issue that would hold elections to fill seats when most of a departing councilmember's term is left. In odd-numbered years (when only one year remains in the term) the seat would simply remain vacant until the following regularly scheduled council election.

Naturally this has given local politicians an opportunity to give sound bites on their druthers. Councilman and Charterite Chris Bortz likes the idea. Jeff Berding isn't against it, but he is in favor of a system involving some council members elected by districts and other at large members. Democratic Party Chair Tim Burke is naturally in favor of leaving the system as it is. Charter Commitee chairman Michael Goldman would rather see a system with four-year terms instead of two. Republican Party Chair Alex Triantafilou indicate one way or the other what his or his party's stand would be on the issue. Chris Smitherman was in favor of the measure.

My favorite part of the article though was the chart showing how many recent councilmembers were appointed rather than elected into Council their first time.

(I am going to attempt to embed the image. Hopefully this works:)

(If the image goes away, try this link. )

There have been nine city council elections since 1990 and since that time there have been thirteen appointments to council. This is definitely the type of info that I find interesting and I would like to get it added into the wiki.

On a related note: I'm planning on getting more info on some of the candidates who have announced that they're running in the council election in November and putting it up on the wiki as well.