Wednesday, March 11, 2015

More on Centreville election...

The town did in fact communicate the upcoming election to the citizens via a press release and with a small advertisement on page 27 of the February 13th Record Observer. A February 26th town email newsletter also carried the election notice and filing deadline (that email was delivered 2 working days prior to the filing deadline). There is no archive on the town site for either the press release or the email newsletter.    

With slightly more than 3 weeks before the planned April 6th election, however, the town has not made clear who has filed, how many candidates have filed, nor that there will not be a need for the April 6th election. The process by which the town can "formally" announce who filed as a candidate, and subsequently announce that there will not be an election, takes time. Both the Board of Elections and the Town Ethics Council need to review candidate filings; the Board of Elections was scheduled to meet last night.

Perhaps the process has been slow rolled because only one person has filed, perhaps not. But if multiple persons had filed as candidates on the filing deadline of March 2nd, and another nine days passed before those candidates were made official, the voters would have a short three weeks to make their decision. This leaves little time for research, candidate forums or vetting by the press; and these candidates, if elected, deal with serious matters, making decisions with profoundly long-term impacts. The risks to the voters of not knowing who is running seem to be higher than maybe some realize.

It is clear to me at least that a month between filing deadline and election, knowing the process that has to occur before a candidate can be made "official" by town entities, is too short of a time frame.  I would suggest that the town either make the filing deadline a month earlier, or make the election a month later. The process should also codify that the Board of Elections and Town Ethics Commission will meet within 2 days following the filing deadline. The process should be clear, easy to understand, and it should be consistent.  I would also suggest that the town post candidate filings as soon as they are submitted, and simply mark those candidates as "provisional" pending the completion of the town process.

Elections are important, knowing who is running is important. There should be signs announcing Town Election - April 6, the election should feature prominently on all town communications, on the town website, and perhaps include an announcement with the utility bill, and all of this should begin well in advance. The town should have no qualms announcing who the candidates are, and no qualms about promoting the election. 



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