Rehoboth needs open process for nominations
The following letter was sent to Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns and commissioners, with a copy sent to the Cape Gazette for publication.
This letter concerns your ongoing consideration regarding the vacancy on the commission created by the recent election. As a foundation for my this letter, I attach, for the record of the city commission, a closely related letter I wrote which was published on the same subject in the the Cape Gazette. In summary, my earlier letter clarified that while it was legal and legitimate for the mayor to nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy, it was also legal and legitimate for other commissioners to nominate another candidate for consideration. The result was a vote deadlock on confirmation which is yet to be resolved. As a result, the mayor and commissioners face the challenge of either reaching agreement on a new commissioner or continuing to function with six voting members on the commission.
Your continued work on the vacancy compels me to add one crucial point concerning the process for meeting this challenge. It is to remind our elected representatives that under the charter for our city, the filling of a vacancy on the commission is not the prerogative or exclusive power of the mayor or of any commissioner. Rather, the charter authorizes a process for filling a vacancy which is in the hands of our elected representatives but is undeniably public in nature. This means that it should not be an arrangement among the mayor and commission members but rather a transparent public process.
A valid process will make the public fully aware in advance of who is being nominated, will include public discussion of the reasons they are being nominated, and will include a fair opportunity for public comment on both the process and the person(s) being proposed. What the process specifically should not be is a dialogue largely among the mayor and commissioners, apart from the public, leading to a negotiated result that later appears to citizens as a done deal.
I would expect that any citizen who seeks consideration, or becomes aware of being considered, for possible nomination to the vacant commissioner’s seat will be the first to insist on such a complete and transparent public process. A truly open process will lend essential credibility to any new commissioner as he or she goes forward in service to the citizens of Rehoboth Beach. It also makes common sense to use this vacancy, at this time, to establish a lasting policy for such a process.
Thank you for your consideration,