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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: Interview Mayor, Council Applicants In An Open Meeting

Editorial: Interview Mayor, Council Applicants In An Open Meeting

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The three remaining Carolina Beach Town Council members should interview potential candidates for appointment to vacant seats for Mayor and Council.
That's what they said they would do soon after Mayor Ray Rothrock and Councilman Lonnie Lashley resigned last month.
At their last meeting, they changed their minds because they are "sensitive" to how those people may feel standing up in front of the public because it may be "uncomfortable."
Seriously?
What began as an open process is now happening behind the scenes. The Council can't technically meet as a group because with only three members, two would constitute an official quorum-meeting.
So they informed everyone Tuesday November 27, they would wait for the deadline to submit "letters of interest" from people who would like to serve in those vacant seats and then individually call upon those candidates to interview them.
That leaves the public in the dark about what information influenced Council member's Steve Shuttleworth, Bob Lewis and Sarah Friede's choices for whom they feel should be appointed.
They should stick to the original deal. Review the resumes, make a few calls, narrow down the list and then interview that group of candidates in a public meeting so everyone can hear how those people conduct themselves in a public setting, what their outlooks are on taxes, infrastructure needs, general spending, priorities that need addressing, and other important issues.
If they can speak to those issues in a public setting intelligently and with substance rather than rhetoric, the public will have more faith in the process.
When the public isn't given the opportunity to see and hear those candidates in an open public meeting, they have no means of comparison to judge whether or not the Council's appointmentees were the right people for the job.
At that point, the interested public will fall back on the only other option they have, to consider the appointments back-room good ole boy network deals.
The Kure Beach Town Council has used the public interview method in the past and it worked out perfectly fine in selecting appointees to fill vacant seats.
It wasn't hard for those seeking appointment to stand in front of the people they are willing to serve and answer basic questions. And Kure Beach is no stranger to controversy anymore than Carolina Beach over the decades, but they did it in a professional open manner.
If candidates are afraid of being interviewed in a meeting, they need not be appointed because the reality of future meetings will certainly be an eye opener.
Perhaps citizens would like to hear the interviews in a public meeting and at least have the opportunity to contact their elected leaders by phone or email to offer input on which candidate should be selected.
Granted, this isn't an election, these seats will be appointed by the remaining membership, but it's worth it to open the door for public input through normal communication channels than to not and then have people speculate why a councilman's friend of a friend of a friend was chosen over another candidate.
People's imaginations run wild when in a dark room. When the curtains are pulled back and the sun shines in, everyone can see their surroundings more clearly and form more educated opinions.
And the argument I've heard, "Previous council's appointed people without interviews in public meetings..." is absurd.
Kure Beach set the bar higher and Carolina Beach will appear cloak-and-dagger behind closed doors if they don't exercise the same simple open method that Kure Beach has used in the past.
And it's not an uncomfortable situation for the candidates to stand up and speak.
After the Council decided not to go that route at their December 4, meeting, several of those candidates spoke to the Council about their desire to serve the community. Better yet, they did it voluntarily in an open meeting in front of the public and seemed perfectly comfortable doing so.