Transparency a must
We’re pleased to see that Grand Junction City Attorney John Shaver and City Manager Laurie Kadrich decided — after a request from The Daily Sentinel’s Emily Anderson — to release information on how each City Council member voted last Thursday when they chose Sam Susuras to fill a vacancy on the council.
It was the right thing to do. Citizens of Grand Junction have a right to know how their council members vote on public business.
The secret-ballot votes taken at last week’s council meeting don’t look like an intentional or malicious attempt to subvert Colorado open-meetings law or to keep council decision-making secret from the public. We assume Mayor Bruce Hill suggested secret ballots as a means to allow council members to be more comfortable as they made difficult choices from among several qualified candidates.
But people are elected to the City Council to make tough decisions on behalf of their constituents. Those seeking the office should be willing to make those decisions in full public view.
None of this should reflect negatively on Susuras or any of the other applicants for the vacant council seat. Their qualifications for the seat were not undermined by the method the council chose to select a new council member. It’s likely Susuras would have been picked if the ballots hadn’t been secret.
People who read Anderson’s Wednesday article on the vote will see there is an obvious legal disagreement between Shaver and Steve Zansberg, attorney for the Colorado Press Association, regarding exactly what state law requires in such situations. That difference of opinion won’t be resolved unless such a case is litigated, perhaps all the way to the state Supreme Court. That’s a possibility with a similar dispute that already has prompted legal action in Fort Morgan.
In the absence of a court ruling, we hope the Grand Junction City Council will err on the side of transparency, and conduct all of its decisions in full public view, so that citizens of this city can evaluate how council members voted. That is the key to our representative form of government.