UPDATED April 9, 2013 -- official list of applicants from the City of Kirkland updated as of 9 a.m April 9
The Kirkland City Council is accepting applications through April 9 to fill the council seat vacated by Bob Sternoff last month. The process of selecting Kirkland's seventh representative lies in the hands of the six remaining Council members, and that process has been fast tracked. The Council has no interest in controversy at this point and they want to put this issue to bed and move on as quickly as possible.
But this quick draw response is being met with concern among some folks in town. They want input on who our next council member will be since the chosen one will be an unelected representative for the next six months until the general election in November. They will be handed the gift of incumbency.
Recent requests made to the city for the names of the city council applicants have been denied. Prior to releasing applicant names, the city will check the applications to make sure they meet the minimum qualifications and then forward the vetted applications the council. By the time the public gets the official list, the decision as to who will be our next representative may very well have been made.
So, what is one to do if one has insights on which names are likely to be on the short list? I think it important to share what information I have, with the caveat that the list may be incomplete.
Several applicants have contacted Kirkland Views directly and we are aware of the names of others through the grapevine. The following list is by no means complete, but it is food for thought.
Robert L. Style
Elise Spring Vitus
Choosing to serve
Each of these individuals has stepped up and has chosen to serve our city, if called upon to do so. They deserve our thanks. The decision to run for city council does not come easily for most.
[box type="note" style="rounded" border="full"]I am not publishing these names to provide fresh fodder for the anonymous negative naysayers to have a field day. These folks are not elected officials and they deserve our respect. So, before any anonymous commenter starts criticizing any of these individuals for their views on the issues, be cautioned that your comments will be closely monitored and violations of our commenting standards will be met with the banning of your IP address.[/box]
My wish list for qualities in a council member
I know most of the people listed above. They are serious candidates and earnest in their desires to improve our city. I applaud them for stepping up. As with any political office, it is likely that some candidates will have ambitions of using our council as a stepping stone to higher office. Others, with large egos, may be satisfied to merely shine in the light of public attention. Others still will have struggled with this decision and are seeking the council position in order to enact real change in our city. Naturally, I gravitate toward the latter.
So, for what its worth, these are a few of the qualities I seek in my representatives:
1. Integrity - It pains me to say this but many elected officials I know seem to enter into politics bathed in the glow of idealism and good intentions only to run smack into the cold, hard reality of politics, deal making and entrenched bureaucracies. At first the compromise they make against their values hurts them. The next time they compromise, it becomes a little easier and eventually, the pain turns into numbness. Soon enough, those compromises come more easily. The otherwise good individual has been corrupted by the system.
The system pressures one to "go along to get along" and sometimes to act against their better judgement. Most succumb to these pressures. And that political neophyte who had such high hopes of doing good for our community and remaining true to their values ends up like countless others, a part of the machine which is called government. It grinds away extracting compromise after compromise from the representative, until they are find themselves justifying actions they never would have considered before entering politics. When the elected official starts acting as if the ends justify the means, it is time to find a new candidate.
2. Ethics - for reference, please read the Kirkland City Code of Ethics for Elected and Appointed Officials. I believe it should be posted on the wall of the Council Chambers in large print so that council members can read it from the dais. One passage of particular interest of late is:
The professional and personal conduct of Officials must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
What are the people to do if a council member walks too closely to the ethics line and crosses it? Are we to rely upon the rest of the council to call them out on their indiscretion? Not likely. The urge to "go along to get along" is very strong. Besides, their vote may be needed for an upcoming vote, so it is best not to make an enemy on the council, right?
We need council candidates who will soar above even the appearance of impropriety. We need strong leaders with iron backbones.
3. Humility - As novel as it may sound, humility in office is a very powerful trait. It keeps one grounded and it gives one perspective on what is really important in life. The elected official is given great power and they need humility to remind them of their duty to uphold the Constitution and do the people's business.
Thank you again to those who choose to serve. I do not seek a candidate with whom I agree on all of the issues. I seek a candidate whom I respect and I can trust to do what's right in the face of so many obstacles.