Los Angeles Times

How to erase the advantage

It was heartening to see at least some on the Burbank City Council this week acknowledge that any interim pick to replace the soon-to-be vacated positions of city clerk and city treasurer will have an inherent political advantage, come citywide elections in 2013.

That advantage has prompted criticism of the process — criticism that could be allayed by asking the appointees to pledge to not run for the full four-year term. Pledges, of course, can be broken, but many people, including the editors of this paper, will be watching.

It's a strategy being used by the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees as it seeks a replacement for its president, who announced plans to resign to take a job in Maryland. Prohibiting the interim replacement from being in the running for the permanent job, so the logic goes, attracts a wider pool of qualified candidates because they won't be disheartened by the advantage that all incumbents have.

Elected offices are, of course, different; and forcing someone to give up their right to be a candidate seems dicey, legally. However, there's nothing wrong with a strong suggestion.

Otherwise, fewer qualified candidates will mount a campaign against the instant-incumbents. This is not only unfair to voters, but in the end, the city potentially loses out on getting the best-suited person for the job.

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