Friday, June 28, 2013

COMMENTARY: The case for leaving the vacant UG seat open


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- You have arrived at what might be the most unpopular opinion regarding the open seat on the Unified Government Board of Commissioners.

However, it might be the best option.

Leaving the vacant seat open is not the most appealing option, especially after hours of interviews and background checks.

It's also probably not the most appealing option after UG commissioners spent nearly two hours debating the candidacies of Don Budd Jr., and Nathan Barnes.

Here are four reasons why leaving the seat open until the next election is the best option.

1. The possibility of deal-making to swing one vote.

One vote is the difference in this gridlock. One commissioner's vote would make the difference in this instance. It should also be noted that the budget workshops will begin very soon. You do the math.

Don't confuse this with a false accusation of wrong-doing by anyone. While other writers in Kansas City may do that, I don't.

But any time when one vote can make a difference, the possibility of a backroom deal is on the table. It's easy for a lot of people to lobby one person over the course of a few weeks. Leaving the seat open would prevent this from happening. If you're wanting a live example of this, check out the federal debate on the immigration issue and all the "deal making" involved in that.

2. In all likelihood, the commission will remain divided on different candidates anyway.

You don't need a political science degree to notice that there are two camps on the commission. Even if the two final candidates were different, there's a good possibility that a 5-4 vote would have existed. If the division is too much to overcome, cut your losses and move on to other issues.

3. Let the people vote.

This is not an ordinary vacancy. It's an at-large seat where a lot more Wyandotte County residents get to vote on. If either of the two final candidates are great, why not allow the people of Wyandotte County to decide that instead of two wings of an elected body?

4. On most issues, the commission is unified.

I've covered about 80-90 percent of the meetings in the past three years. While there are disagreements, more often than not, the commission agrees on most things. Very few economic development projects in Wyandotte County receive a split vote. Most meetings last under an hour. While the negative aspects of the commission have been enhanced in recent weeks due to increased media coverage of this fiasco, in all reality, the commission has done a great job for the most part in representing Wyandotte County. There are more pressing issues facing the county than a vacant seat.