Remember who loses when a seat is empty

Let's be clear about who loses when a seat on a local elected board is vacant. The citizens represented by that seat lose, and it makes no difference whether it's one day or one year.

So, when county commissioners – Republican or Democrat – play politics with their duty to fill an empty seat on that board, they are hurting the people they've sworn to serve.

Republicans on the Mecklenburg County board of commissioners have blocked the appointment of Democrat George Dunlap to fill the remainder of the late Valerie Woodard's current term. Dunlap, a seasoned member of the school board, was nominated by party activists in a process that followed the rules to the letter. Democrats have sued, asking a judge to order the appointment.

There's really no reason for this dispute. Commissioners could have and should have put Dunlap in place to fill the current term, which ends in December.

Meanwhile, if there were questions about how to fill the seat for the two-year term Woodard was seeking, unopposed, in the Nov. 4 election, those questions could have been settled later.

Instead, Republicans blocked Dunlap's appointment, period, saying he had been an excessively divisive figure and asking for an investigation of his background.

That's bogus. There's little question, with Dunlap, what's in the package. Voters in his school board district, have repeatedly elected him.

He's stubborn and outspoken, yes, but no more divisive than some of the commissioners who rejected him.

It's awkward filling a term for an incumbent who's unopposed, but not yet elected. Democrats should play it straight, and dot the i's and cross the t's. They should not slip in a two-year appointment without due process.

Yet Republicans shouldn't have rejected this appointment out of hand.

That grandstanding left the residents of District 3 with a diminished voice in public affairs.