A decision, please

If we may steal a line from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, we’d like to extend a tip of the hat and a wag of the finger to the Grand Junction City Council.

Though it took a new law to make it happen, we appreciate the council for holding an open process in selecting a replacement for former council member Harry Butler.

It was only 2010 when the council selected Sam Susuras by secret ballot to replace former councilor Linda Romer Todd. Though the council later revealed who voted for whom, it only did so after a request from a reporter at this newspaper and news stories questioning its legality.

The Colorado Supreme Court eventually upheld that questionable practice after lower courts ruled that similar votes by the Fort Morgan City Council were allowed under the Colorado Open Records law, but that still didn’t make it right.

As we said then, people elected to the city council are there to make tough decisions on behalf of the voters, who have the right to know where councilors side on important issues.

The following year, when council members selected former council member Laura Luke to replace Bonnie Beckstein, they did so through an open ballot even though the law, at the time, allowed them to repeat what they did with Susuras.

It wasn’t until the Colorado Legislature enacted a new law in 2012 that made it clear such things should be done openly.

So, kudos to the council for conducting this week’s candidate forum in the open, even though they were just following the law.

Now for a wag of our finger.

When a six-member panel tries to choose a seventh member, it’s understandable how it could result in a tie, with three opting for Duncan McArthur and three siding with Les Miller.

What we can’t understand is what value there is in starting the entire process over again.

We understand it’s tough for candidates to play that role. To put oneself out there and be willing to serve the people is a high calling. Why make them do all that again?

More importantly, what’s to gain by it? What questions would you ask that you didn’t the first time — what’s your favorite color? Someone once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

It may be the deadlock will resolve itself if one of the two “finalists” chooses not to vie for the post during Round Two. After the vote, Miller told The Daily Sentinel’s Emily Shockley that he would “have to think long and hard before reapplying to go through this again.” Not to endorse Miller for the job, but it would be unfortunate if he didn’t because it would be a disincentive to others who have the thought of going into public service.

The only real solution is to send the matter to a vote of the people. We realize a special election would cost the city, but let that be a lesson to the council. After all, it’s a far more important issue than the relatively simple zoning matter the council sent to the voters earlier this year.

Make a decision, that’s why you’re there.


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