Vacancy votes must be open

When city councils or school boards vote to fill a vacancy on their boards, they are making important policy decisions about who should be installed to take part in future decisions. There is no reason that either the discussion about candidates to fill the vacancy or the actual vote on those candidates should not be open to the public.

Unfortunately, too many elected entities in Colorado have to come to believe they can simply ignore that need for public transparency and use secret ballots to fill vacancies. The Fort Morgan City Council did it multiple times to replace council members and a municipal judge.

More disastrously, for those who believe the workings of their local government should be transparent, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the actions of the Fort Morgan City Council, saying that state statutes are unclear on the matter.

Now, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants to end that uncertainty by adopting legislation that specifically prohibits the use of secret ballots by city councils, school boards and other boards when filling vacancies on those boards.

We applaud Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, and all those of both parties who support his bill. We hope it wins speedy approval.


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