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Editorial: Bring choices into public

Organizational meetings are usually just this side of snail racing when it comes to excitement, but in a few parts of the Capital District these yearly exercises have been a bit more interesting because of vacant positions.

In Colonie, the Town Board has appointed David Rowley to fill a seat vacated by Dan Dustin, who is moving south for an out-of-state job. In the Town of Bethlehem, the Town Board recently filled a seat vacated by a member moving to a town justice position. In the City of Schenectady, the process is getting underway to replace Mayor Gary McCarthy, whose City Council seat is now vacant.

Now, state law dictates that a vacancy is filled by the remaining members of that body, by majority vote if no unanimous consensus exists. Still, these three examples make for an interesting case study in how these circumstances are handled, and for how the public should be informed of these proceedings even if it has no say in the outcome.

In the Town of Bethlehem, the matter of the empty seat was the talk of the town for several weeks. Newly minted Supervisor John Clarkson released a list of names he thought were good candidates for an appointment, which led to a public meeting on the matter organized by the League of Women Voters. The attendance at that meeting as well as the letters that have been received at The Spotlight’s offices indicate the level of interest this issues commands.

In Schenectady, a minority legislator is holding open public interviews for candidates in what is most likely a political stunt, but also a breath of fresh air.

Then in Colonie, there was no official word from the town other than what was sought out by the media. Being in that business, we’re not ultimately opposed to such an arrangement (let’s keep the media relevant, please) but all the same an acknowledgment of the public interest in and importance of this matter would be nice.

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