For the second time in less than four months a Crawford County governing body has filled a vacant seat with someone who was already on the board.
In July, the Frontenac Board of Education accepted the immediate resignation of the board president and promptly appointed him to fill a vacant seat with two years left to run.
We said then that this was not the proper way to handle the vacancy, particularly as the gentleman in question had not filed for reelection in his own right.
Monday night, the Arma City Council took it a step further appointing someone who lost an election to an open seat they appear to have deliberately held open until after the election.
There were two open seats on the council, and three candidates — Ray Vail, Mary Lou Peace and fellow incumbent Richard Kerley.
Peace received 46.2 percent of the vote, and Kerley received 30.4 percent, securing the two seats for them. Vail received 23.4 percent of the vote and should have been off the council in January.
Instead, he resigned his position and was promptly appointed to an open seat vacated earlier this year by Johnnie Logiudici — and the council chose to keep the position open for five weeks, rather than fill it prior to the election.
There were three other applicants for that seat, and in our view one of them should have been selected. What the Arma City Council did Monday night was circumvent the clear will of the voters.
Arma Mayor Rock Anderson may not have seen the electoral results as a “massive loss” for Vail, but he was beaten by seven points over the next closest rival. This is a clear message that the voters of Arma did not believe he should represent them going forward.
Let us be clear, not the Arma City Council nor the mayor, or yet even Vail did anything illegal. But as we noted in July, legal and ethical are not always the same thing — certainly not in this case.
We call on Vail to accept the will of the voters and resign forthwith.
Moreover, we renew our call to State Reps. Monica Murnan and Adam Lusker, and State Senator Richard Hilderbrand to sponsor an amendment to prevent this sort of “seat shopping” from occurring.
It should read something like this: “Upon resigning from a Governing Body, no former member of that Body shall be eligible to serve upon that Body, by appointment or election, until at least 12 months shall have passed.”
This is twice in one year in one county, how often has this happened across the state?
Our representatives in Topeka and the Legislature as a whole should take this seriously and make passing this legislation a priority in the next session.