As the city gears up for the potential appointment of an interim commissioner for District 2 we at the News Messenger are contemplating the futility of the process.
The District 2 commissioner seat has been vacant for a long time, months before the resignation and eventual tragic passing of former Marshall Commissioner Gail Beil.
While the city is still in mourning over the loss of such an important and active community leader, we are struck with the sheer amount of time the district has gone without representation.
Residents of District 2, along with Commissioner Vernia Calhoun of the overlapping district 5, have been vocal for months over the issues that leaving a portion of the community unrepresented have caused.
Citizens of District 2 have not had a voice on the commission for a number of important issues, including but not limited to:
The most recent decision to progress with the design/build process for the new animal shelter.
The new downtown redevelopment plan, which is encompassed entirely in District 2.
The neighborhood revitalization plan.
The review of the old charter, and hopeful instillation of an updated version.
Frankly, the city has failed this district and the people who reside within it. It is in our opinion that the issue was ignored as long as it could be, with no discussion of the consistent absence of Gail Beil at the city commission meetings occurring until October 2019. Beil resigned in November and the commission has waited until February to make an appointment which is just three and a half months before an elected commissioner will be elected to the seat.
With the election for the seat coming up in May, and early voting starting even sooner than that, it is our opinion that there is no real reason to fill the seat at this point. Whomever the city chooses, the selected person will be temporary, and will not even have the time to acclimate to the job before their time holding the position is at an end. More importantly, it keeps politics out of the appointment during an election campaign for the District 2 seat especially if the appointed commissioner chooses to run for the seat.
We are glad to see the Charter Review Committee contemplating an addition to the charter that would give clear steps on what to do in this situation if it were to occur again.
But that is not in the charter yet, and it may never be added to the charter.
What we need is a clear cut plan, and a faster moving system, so that what happened, and is still happening to the people of District 2, does not happen again.
We hope that the issues with district 2 are not repeated.