Logistically, having to pick a new mayor from the ranks of the city council was going to prove challenging. Giving up your seat for the chance to lead for just a couple of months didn’t make sense for a vast majority of members.
As the lone outgoing member, it made sense that Tim Burgess take on the interim tag until the election is certified in late November, and either Cary Moon or Jenny Durkan take office.
This, of course, presents the problem of having to fill that council seat in the meantime. Needless to say, time is of the essence with the 2018 budget development process already underway, but the Council will use the full 20 days it is allowed to solicit and review applications from the public (your chance to submit your name runs through Monday), with two community forums and a public hearing held before the council votes on Oct. 6 to pick a temp.
Some have found this timeline to be overkill, and think he need to have someone in the position of the utmost important, to make the most of stint of the current council before a new mayor and at least one new council member are seated for full terms. Others think it’s a matter of transparency, and that the process is necessary regardless of how short the interim stint may be. It is to determine who will serve as a public official, after all.
In reality, the council was put in a no-win situation with how long it took now ex-mayor Ed Murray to resign. Ideally, had he done so months ago, there would have been enough time for a robust public process, and the person selected would have had ample time to make an impact.
Instead, there’s the unenviable position of spurning process, or having someone serve for an incredibly short period.
That said, we commend Harrell and the council for taking the time to give the public its rightful say in picking Burgess’s temporary replacement. It would have been all too easy to essentially hand the position to someone who has done it before, like Nick Licata or John Okamoto, and called it a day.
Hopefully, from the next two weeks, we come away with someone committed to public service and the good of the city (and perhaps that is either of the aforementioned former councilmembers), and are able to make a worthwhile difference in their time at city hall.
It won’t be for a lack of input from the rest of us, at least.