On April 15, City Councilman Rafi Manoukian steps into his new role as Glendale’s elected treasurer. His soon-to-be-former colleagues have two options: have a special election to fill the two years left in Manoukian’s term, or appoint someone that would have to stand for election next year to remain in office.
Appointing a replacement seems tempting. Elections are not cheap; and while the economy seems to be on the move, it’s painful to spend money that might be put to any number of other purposes. Also, council members, over the course of handling their official duties, have become acquainted with other civic-minded people and might believe they know someone who would be “the perfect choice.”
There are some problems with that scenario. Getting four council members to agree on the same person to complete Manoukian’s term could drag out the process an unreasonably long time. It could also cause hard feelings among the sitting members themselves, as well as among those who would like to be so anointed.
But we think the most compelling reason not to appoint a replacement is that person will have an unfair advantage: He or she will be an instant incumbent.
The person filling that seat should earn the title, not simply receive it as a gift. The election option could also draw out candidates who haven’t previously thrown their hats into the ring because they were daunted by the sheer number of candidates — including two incumbents — who were on the ballot this last round. And, don’t forget that whoever is elected in a special election can remain focused on the job for two years, while a one-year appointee will have one eye on the next campaign season and another on city business.
We call on the Glendale City Council to hold a special election.