Public deserves open discussion on council seats | Editorial
January 11, 2013 · Updated 5:03 PM
Following this month’s departure of Linda Kochmar and Roger Freeman for the Legislature, two new faces will join the Federal Way City Council.
The two vacancies attracted 24 applicants. Kudos to these 24 citizens for their willingness to serve the community.
The Mirror urges the city to go one step further to ensure maximum transparency in next week’s selection process.
On Jan. 19, the applicants will participate in public oral interviews. By state law, the council must choose one applicant first and name that person to the council. That person will then become part of the decision-making process for appointing the second position.
Here’s the rub: the council is scheduled to hold an executive session (private meeting) to discuss the first new council member, then return to the public forum and officially vote. That new council member is then expected to vote on the second appointee — without the benefit of participating in the first of two executive sessions, which are closed to the public.
State law allows the council to hold an executive session to evaluate the qualifications of candidates for appointment. There is no legal requirement to go into executive session.
The Mirror encourages the council to forgo the executive sessions and conduct all discussions about the candidates in public. There shouldn’t be anything discussed in executive session that the council wouldn’t say in public.
Furthermore, the first appointee has a right to participate in the council’s discussion in order to make an informed vote on the second council appointment. By keeping these discussions public, the council can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and good government.