Voters, not governor, should fill vacancies
Author: - September 4, 2009 - Updated: September 4, 2009
The 2010 statewide elections are more than a year away, but already there are signs of political unrest with the candidates who are running or may run for office on the Democratic ticket.
In the Supreme Court case Baker v. Carr, later clarified in Reynolds v. Sims, the court established in its holding the now famous “one-person, one-vote” doctrine.
Obviously, this doctrine was not intended to be applied literally in a vacancy selection process of publicly elected officials. In fact, this method of appointment vitiates the very notion of the “one-person, one-vote” doctrine.
The voters of the state of Colorado chose Ken Salazar to represent them in the United States Senate. These same voters chose Bill Ritter to be the governor of the state of Colorado. The voters did not intend for Ritter to ultimately be able to choose their senator.
The governor’s appointment of Michael Bennet to the vacant Salazar seat was a lose-lose decision for him. It clearly underscores the need for change in the selection process to fill these publicly elected vacancy positions.
No one person should be put in the position to make these decisions alone. We clearly need to conduct special public elections to fill these seats when vacancies arise.
The present appointment process can politically hurt the person who has to make the decision. But, more importantly, it can split and curtail a party’s momentum.
While some disagreed with the governor’s final decision, he did not ask to make the selection. He was merely following the current law. Ritter was put in an unfair, untenable and unwise political conundrum.
We need to change our state’s vacancy selection process to public elections not governor appointments.