In the South Bay the recent elections have ushered in two new mayors, one for Chula Vista and one for National City. At the same time, they created two new vacancies for elected positions in those cities.
In Chula Vista, with the election of Cheryl Cox, there is now a vacancy on the Chula Vista Elementary School Board, and in National City, with Ron Morrison ascending to the mayor’s seat from his City Council position, there is an opening on the City Council. The Chula Vista School Board and the City of National City, last week, decided to appoint rather than go through another election with two years left in each term.
While we see the arguments for the appointment process (most notably the cost of another election, the time it would take to go through the process, and the fact that we have had to endure a seemingly endless round of elections over the past few years), we at the same time feel that these appointments are diluting the democratic process.
Both of these vacancies are supposed to represent the will of the people through the election process and this will is being circumvented. This holds true in that neither seat is subjected to term limits and where it is rare if ever, in particular, with Chula Vista’s School Board, that an incumbent loses a race. On the school board, you will have one board member who will, at the end of his present term, have served twenty years on the board!
What we find particularly perturbing in National City is that the city is under no obligation, by law, to publicize the appointment process other than through public postings and the goodwill of local news media. For all intents and purposes, unless you are a regular visitor to City Hall or a close personal friend of one of the City Council members, it is highly unlikely that you will know about the process. All this does is ensure that an insider will be selected to serve out the term of Councilman Ron Morrison.
The Chula Vista School Board has come under scathing attack from the community as being out of touch with their interest as well as insolated by the fact that no incumbent has lost a race. By appointing another member to this board, they will be making an appointment that will be joining this exclusive group and will only reflect the present members’ attitudes and ideas, not exactly the democratic way!
And as for the argument that the cost of a special election is too high, tell that to the fighting men and women who put their lives on the line to ensure that we do have a democratic society and that we have free and open elections to select those individuals who will best represent us.
The appointment process for both seats gets underway this December. If you are interested in learning more, contact the mayor’s office at National City and the Chula Vista Elementary School District for further information or call your local Political Party Leadership in the City and County of the San Diego Region.