Citizens should have confidence that their government is working well and transparently. Government in Keizer includes the work completed by numerous boards, task forces and commissions. For a citizen to take a seat on any of those bodies they must first be recommended by the Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC).
The Volunteer Coordinating Committee, comprised of seven Keizer residents, is charged with accepting applications for openings, holding monthly meetings including testimony from applicants and members of the public. Each member of the city council, including the mayor, appoint one member.
There usually is not much news that comes out of the VCC. Vacancies on boards and commissions occur regularly througout the year. Eligible citizens apply for a committee, submitting an application. They are interviewed by the committee; if approved, their nomination is forwarded to the city council which has the final say on any board appointments.
The December VCC meeting was a different story. About 50 people came to speak out in support of one of four candidates for two openings on the Keizer Parks Advisory Board. The turnout was unusua—past VCC meetings usually drew about 10 to 20 audience members.
The four applicants for the slots on the Parks Advisory Board all had their supporters in the audience.
Some people were upset over the meeting and charged that the voting by the committee was preordained and rigged. Six people testified before the Dec. 17 council meeting expressing their dismay at the VCC’s procedures.
It was good to see that more than 50 citizens were interested enough to attend the VCC meeting. The committee’s procedures are generally smooth and uncontroversial. When more than one candidate applies for one seat only one applicant is recommended to the city council. The candidates not chosen certainly have the opportunity to apply for future vacancies.
Applicants are not approved by the Volunteer Coordinating Committee based on number of supporters in the audience. The VCC has been a smooth running committee for years. Allegations of wrongdoing should be addressed but we don’t see evidence of that. Members of VCC are not beholden to the councilor who appointed them to the committee. The committee is an independent group of citizens who make the best choice based on the information they receive and interviews with the applicants themselves.
Those who were upset because late applicants were not considered at earlier VCC meetings need to lower the level of anger. A deadline is a deadline, period.
The committee broke a tie between two applicants at the Dec. 17 meeting by drawing a name from a hat. That seemed unfair to some people. It is important to remember that Lore Christopher won a vacant city council seat in 1998 using the same method. Drawing a name from a hat in a tied vote is nothing new or nefarious. Councils and towns across the country use tie-breaking methods such as tossing a coin.
In America the majority rules. We can be mad when our candidate doesn’t win, but we accept the result. The committee could have voted repeatedly but that wouldn’t have broken the tie. It was the fairest way to choose.
We are happy the committee had candidates to choose from. At times the city goes begging for applicants for vacancies on any number of the boards.
Those who did not receive the recommendation they sought should stay involved and try again. Keizer is strong when its citizens get involved, and strongest when they accept vote results. -—LAZ