Editorial: Explanation Of Support For Steve Shuttleworth Appointment

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 20 November 2019 16:36

Managing Editor

It's not often you see an endorsement for an elected official in the Island Gazette. In fact, We've not done so in many years (In fact, I can't even remember an occasion, but I've been here almost two decades and I'm not diving into research).

Last week I wrote an editorial endorsing Councilman Steve Shuttleworth to fill a soon-to-be-vacant Council seat of Council member Leann Pierce who recently won her bid for election as Mayor. That leaves her four year council seat vacant for a  remaining two year term.

As I wrote last week, logic would dictate that Shuttleworth should be appointed to fill Leann's vacant Council seat.

Shuttleworth was not reelected by a mere six votes on Tuesday November 5th. That small difference in votes doesn't mean there's a mandate against Steve, it simply means that people like Steve as much as they like the newcomer to Council, Jay Healy who won by six votes on election night.

Not taking anything away from Healy, but Shuttleworth should be the obvious candidate to fill the remaining term of Pierce until the next municipal election in two years. 

There was no controversy during the election season and in fact, all of the other Council candidates said they agreed with Steve on several important issues during a candidates form, which was a moment that offered up a sense of friendly agreements among candidates.

Not appointing Steve to Leann's vacant seat will severely handicap the new Mayor/Council by tossing out years of service, government contacts and vital experience. Experience the new members can build upon.

If the Council, in their wisdom, appoints Steve to fill Leann's vacant Council seat for two years until the next municipal election, Steve can run again and may the best person win. Or not. That's up to the voters to decide in an election year.

What we are considering here isn't an election-year issue, it's an appointment. An entirely different situation.

There's something to be said for continuity in government. The Council will have to vote on filling that vacant council seat during their January 2020, regular meeting. If they can't agree on an appointment, they will have to vote at each regular monthly meeting until they do reach an agreement.
I'll add a few observations to my previous editorial comments.

Why not appoint someone who didn't file for election?

Because if someone "new" wanted to serve on Council, they should have filed to be on the ballot and campaigned like the rest of the candidates.

Why not appoint others who ran for a Council seat?

No offense to those candidates, but they received far fewer votes than Barbee, Healy or Shuttleworth. The spread is vast. The three aforementioned candidates received far more votes.

If the majority of the newly elected Council decides to appoint someone that didn't file for election this year, the question that will hover above the Council for the next two years is, to whom does that appointee answer when casting their vote on any given issue? It's a question of confidence.

Who will the voting public have the most confidence in terms of an appointee?

The person they are most familiar with that wasn't elected by the votes of a few people in a town that enjoyed one the largest voter turnouts in the Town's history.

Why not use an application process?

That is a useful process when someone resigns from their seat voluntarily, moves out of Town, is removed due to a crime, or passes away. However, in this case, it's not useful because of the previously mentioned reasons.

In this a biased editorial opinion?

No. It's based on common sense. Had Shuttleworth won and Healy or Barbee come up short by a few votes, the same opinion would apply based on their desire to serve the public and their professional experience as well as their appeal to the voters who cast a ballot.
To be clear, if the number of votes between Healy and Shuttleworth was drastically larger, then it would be an entirely different question of who should be appointed.


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