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December 7, 2010 > Editorial: Birth of a councilmember

Editorial: Birth of a councilmember

Now that Bob Wieckowski is safely sworn into the California State Assembly and no longer warming a seat in Fremont's council chambers, it is time for remaining councilmembers to orchestrate the public unveiling of a replacement. The final product of selection may already have been determined, but engineering a public process to reach that result can be a delicate balance between the theory of transparency in government and reality.

Since two years remain of Wieckowski's term, the impact of a new councilmember will not be trivial. Also, the favorable record of reelection for incumbents and possible internecine battle for mayor in 2012 are both important factors in determining the result. It is more than likely that the political ramifications of this selection will weigh heavily on councilmember's minds.

As witnessed in a previous selection process to replace the council seat vacated by Bob Wasserman when first elected Mayor, even though the method may be questionable, a qualified candidate can emerge from political maneuvering and enhance the council. However, the charade used at that time to ensure a predetermined result was obvious and demeaning. It may be that a closed door, political process is inevitable on these occasions but creating a pretense of intent is disingenuous.

In my opinion, discussions and political maneuvers have already determined the result so the question of who will emerge as the chosen candidate is best handled quickly and efficiently with a minimum of grandstanding. Realpolitik dictates a set of qualifications that will serve the council majority and unseen strategists, otherwise a token outsider will simply be marginalized and serve little purpose except as a foil for other councilmembers. We have enough pomp and prattle without additional acting and repetitious questions already asked and/or answered by staff in summaries.

Even with a predetermined selection, differences of opinion and contrasting perspectives are possible. As the council exists at the present time, representation of government service, consultancy to it as well as individual professional practice - medical and accountancy - is represented. Choosing someone with a different orientation could bring valuable counterpoint to deliberations.

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