NEWS BLOG (WSAU) There's a vacant seat on the Wausau City Council created when Alderman Steve Foley moved away. Three applicants have come forward, saying they'd like to serve the remaining four months of the term.
To their credit, all three have also filed candidacy papers indicating they plan to campaigning for a full term of their own. In far too many cases, people who see campaigning as time-consuming difficult work (and it is), try to get appointed to a vacant seat specifically because they don't have to run as a candidate and face the voters. The person's who's awarded a seat on an interim basis has the advantage of incumbency, which makes running and winning tremendously easier next Election Day. While it's sometimes hard to read people's intentions, this is the kind of pseudo-public servant that should be avoided. Campaigning and winning the support of your neighbors is a critical step in holding public office. People who aren't willing to do it should direct their civic-minded efforts elsewhere.
Which brings us to the City Council tonight, where one of three candidates will be chosen by other council members. They should choose no one. The power of incumbency is too great, and gives the council's choice an unfair advantage over the other two candidates in the spring election.
Yes, there would be a vacancy and five future City Council meetings. Yes, people in the 10th District would be without a voice on the city council. But the hard choices for the year have already been made. The city budget and tax levy are set. Having a temporarily-open seat is better than a non-level-playing-field election in four months.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of the blog misidentified city council member Steve Foley. Sorry for the mistake.