Thoughts on Ward 2 Appointment Process
I just listened to last nights discussion (Tuesday Dec 4th). I like to commend the commitment to holding the interviews in public.
I thought the discussion on whether the council discussion should be held in public as well was interesting. I like that Ms Bryge advocated for the discussions to be in public. I think Mr. Morgan's point that these discussions typically reveal everyone's actual political views was a strong case to hold them in public. Any time we can learn about the true positions about our political officials strengthens our confidence in our government. I do understand the comfortableness of showing disagreements in public. But practice in disagreeing without being disagree-able is something we can all attempt
Mr. Morgan asked about restrictions or processes that might happen if only one person applied. In that case council would not have to appoint that person. In fact, the new appointee does not have apply or be interviewed. All these things are done to help the public trust the process. Council is forced to appoint within 30 days.
On that note the Mayor is forced to appoint within 8 days if council does not meet the 30 day period. There is no process in place should the 38 day period expire without a qualified candidate applying.
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Here are some thoughts on the appointment of the Ward 2 replacement based on the discussion I listened to from the last work session: here is the link if you would like to listen yourself:
First, public interviews are very common. The Clerk of the Council told me a few years ago that Riverside holds their board position interviews in open session. I saw a few post on Facebook that included one that mentioned that the university they work for holds public interviews. My advice is to hold public interviews.
Candidates might watch the other interviews. However, I thought the point about the last person being able to watch the other interviews and adjusting their responses was interesting. If that is really a concern then a compromise could be to hold the interviews in executive session and then publish them after the last interview. Logistically, this would require council to first suspend The Rules of Council to allow the recordings. Then the recording would automatically become public records and required to be available to the public.
At one time it was suggested that the interviews should not be shown to the public because the public might convey their preference to members of council and that interaction may influence the council member. It will be interesting to see if that logic is brought up again this week. My personal opinion is they should be shared as early as possible in order to give the public as much time as possible to provide input to council members.
On the other hand, a second work around might be to hold multiple candidates interviews at the same time. This might seem like a peculiar thought but it would very much mimic an actual council meeting interaction. In an actual council meeting many people speak on the same subject, sometimes to persuade, sometimes to agree. A multi-candidate interview seems like an appropriate way to simulate how the candidate would interact as a member of council.
As a technique, I like to target questions to the candidate’s strongest quality. There was some talk about asking the same question to each candidate. I have seen this recommendation to HR personnel. I reject it when it comes to a member of council. Council is currently made up of a variety of people with different skill sets. Some are better at finance, some better at public relations, some are business focused and others at legal aspects. If I were asking all the questions, I certainly would have some fundamental questions that would go to all the candidates. Or if there were one talent that was completely necessary for the council and not a talent of any of the other members of council. I would search for a person that could fill that need. I suspect though the applications to come from people with different talents. When conceiving questions in that situation, questions designed to determine the expertise in that area provide the most likelihood of finding a person that can contribute the most to the council. Determine if the person who claims to be a finance expert knows the value of a 5-year capital improvement plan. Examine the success of a person that tells us they can inspire businesses to locate in the city.