Charlotte will go nearly 2 years without elected mayor
03/30/2014 6:00 PM
03/30/2014 6:25 PM
Patrick Cannon was a mere 114 days into his term as mayor when he resigned last week following his arrest on corruption charges. That means he had about 616 to go.
Who will Charlotte voters elect to serve those 616 days? No one.
The City Council meets tonight to discuss whom it will appoint to serve the rest of Cannon’s term. That person will serve the 84 percent of Cannon’s term that remains. Voters won’t get another shot at picking a mayor until November 2015.
This is all prescribed by state law. The law needs to be changed.
When the vacancy occurs shortly before a term expires, this approach makes sense. That’s how Patsy Kinsey served as interim mayor when Anthony Foxx left the job. But Cannon just took office in December. Voters should not have to go nearly two full years with a mayor they did not elect.
The law says voters can elect a successor at “the next regularly scheduled city election.” That’s the primary in September 2015, unless “regular” means “general” election. Either way, it would make no sense to elect a mayor and then another one two months later. But why shouldn’t voters elect a new mayor as soon as possible with a vacancy this long?
In the meantime, City Council members should think beyond the obvious choices tonight when considering whom to appoint as Cannon’s replacement. Public confidence in local government has suffered a devastating blow, and no sitting council member, regardless of his or her qualifications, can represent the break from the status quo that the city needs right now.
Judge rightly lifts curtain on new voter ID law documents
A federal judge correctly ordered state lawmakers Thursday to hand over public records related to last year’s controversial voter ID law, rejecting an argument that legislative immunity protected legislators from the release. The public has a right to that information, and lawmakers were wrong to try to cloak it in secrecy.
The fact that they did raises suspicions about what they don’t want the public to know.
The N.C. NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the ACLU and others sued the state after legislators refused to release emails and other documents related to the enactment of the law requiring a specific photo ID at the polls, limiting early voting times and other contested changes.
Critics say the moves were designed to suppress voter turnout of groups that traditionally vote for Democrats. Proponents say it was designed to preserve voter integrity.
It looks like voter suppression tactics to us. The changes are unnecessary and have a disproportionate impact on blacks, women and immigrants.
Regardless, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake was on point in ruling that legislative immunity must be evaluated under an approach that balances the public’s right to know and the legislative process.
Legislators work for the public. Voters elect them. They should not be allowed to hide how they do the public’s business.
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