As things stand right now, the Mexico Beach city council has announced that it will hold a special meeting on Jan. 8 to “appoint” a new council member to fill the seat suddenly vacated by Lanny Howell. His resignation is effective Jan. 1, and the council has 30 days from the effective date to fill the vacancy, meaning by Jan. 30. But the council plans to fill that seat just eight days into the time allotted.
The Mexico Beach city council has ample time to hold a public meeting at which all candidates for the vacant seat (there are currently eight candidates) answer questions from the residents. Forums at which candidates for city council have participated in question-and-answer sessions with the public have been held before; I’ve attended them all – I even moderated one of them.
Even if the city council has to attend multiple meetings in one week, there is ample time to allow the public to participate in vetting candidates for our city council. In fact, the city council held multiple meetings per week during May, June, July, August and September of this year in order to hold regularly scheduled meetings, budget meetings and to interview candidates for the city clerk position. Surely the choosing of a city council member who will serve almost a complete two-year term is equally as important as the interviewing of city clerk applicants.
Here are the dates available, even starting after the first scheduled meeting of 2014: Jan. 9-10, 13-17, 20-24, and 27-30. That’s 16 days. There is absolutely no reason that a public meeting cannot be scheduled and advertised and the public listen to the candidates sometime during those 16 days. To the Mexico Beach city council members – Jack Mullen, Al Cathey, Tanya Castro, Bobby Pollock – you have plenty of time to involve Mexico Beach residents in the selection of OUR city council representative, someone we are supposed to be able to ELECT, not someone you four just get to “appoint.”
You are, by your method of “appointment,” denying all of us who live here our legal right to representation and our legal right to ELECT our so-called “elected” officials.
Mexico Beach residents, if you care at all about what goes on in this town and how it affects you and your property, I urge you to flood the four city council members with e-mails and phone calls demanding that we have the opportunity during those 16 days to hear from the candidates for the vacant council seat in a Q-and-A session at the civic center. It is our legal right to have a say in the “election” and “appointment” of our “elected” officials.
Mexico Beach resident