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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