Special Committee Heats Up Over Pros, Cons of Appointed v Elected
by Brandi Makuski City-Times Editor
The discussion continues over appointing two key city positions, raising more questions- and high emotions- over how to implement the potential process.
A five- member Appointment Process Review Committee has been charged by the mayor to determine how- not if- the appointment process would be implemented within the confines of city government.
Mayor Halverson announced in July his decision to look at the feasibility of making the positions appointed, and has the support of at least two of the special committee members, but each for different reasons.
Alderwoman Suomi said the move to appoint employees was necessary because of the lack of public input at city meetings.
“I think there’s a big separation between community members with elected positions. I don’t think they’re involved as much as I’d like them to be, but I don’t think we need our constituents to be involved,” Suomi said.
“I personally prefer to have appointed (positions) just because I really think these are both professional positions,” said 3rd District Alderman Michael O’Meara.
O’Meara said his main concern was ensuring candidates had appropriate qualifications, which he felt couldn’t be enforced on an elected candidate, despite a contrary legal opinion offered by the League of Municipalities assistant legal counsel:
“We have opined in the past that a municipality may impose additional qualifications for holding elected office in a city/ village such as term limits. The same analysis would probably allow job- related qualifications as well,” stated the opinion provided by the league, which was solicited by the committee.
“But what if somebody’s a profligate spender and says the city isn’t spending enough money?” O’Meara asked the committee.
“And what if somebody’s a spineless weasel and does whatever they’re told?” Countered Alderman Mike Wiza, reasoning autonomy wasn’t necessarily best for the electorate.
“I’m totally open to exploring this, and I feel it is my duty to the people in my district who I represent to do so,” Wiza said.
“But I think we’re barking up the wrong tree here.”
Alderman Jerry Moore said while he was willing to explore and discuss options available to the city, he was against the idea of making the positions appointed.
“As former finance chairman, I can tell you the comptroller/ treasurer answers to that committee,” said Moore.
“The finance committee would be place where, if we want to put any qualifications on that position, that committee would be there appropriate place to do that,” he added, arguing several checks and balances are already in place to protect taxpayer’s interests.
“I trusted being elected. I trusted the constituents to make the right call and do the right thing. This idea came from an inside position, and I think if the constituents wanted this changed, they would have brought it up,” he said.
“But I don’t even know what we’re doing here- I think this entire process is futile.”
The committee will meet again at 7 PM on Wednesday, August 8 in the city conference room, when committee members say they could be prepared to vote on the measure, which would then be presented for a common council vote.