Letter: Council should be able to pick its replacements

Letter: Council should be able to pick its replacements

 This letter is in response to the Westerly Sun editorial "Highs and lows from last week" on Monday, Feb. 19. While I live in neither Charlestown or Westerly,  filling a vacancy on a town council is a political appointment. It should be.

The town council is a political office. It is a policy setting office. Whatever ones background or how impressive it is, you may not agree with the political objectives of that person.

To automatically promote a loser in the previous election to fill a vacancy does not necessarily make sense. That person was rejected by the voters in that previous election. That needs to be considered. That person and their views on local issues such as development may or may no be that of the objectives of the public or the body they will join. In cases like some municipalities  when a losing candidate moves up, it can change the partisan makeup or other orientation of a town council on issues.

To suggest a political office like town council should not be political does a disservice to that office. By that I don't mean not working with people of other affiliations while serving on a town council, but the office is not a professional one. Professional positions in local government are held by staff people. Town councils are a policy setting and political office.

I do think town charters need to be clear, especially how town council vacancies are filled and members are removed from office. There should be no question to these two scenarios.

I recall twice I applied for appointment to fill a town council vacancy in Hopkinton and was not chosen. But there are always future elections. I have been there. But filling vacancies to elective offices, especially, should have a political dimension. Political offices set policy. It needs to be remembered the person you appoint may or may not share your political objectives.

Being active in politics and government through the years and being educated in political science, as well as a command of local history, I consider my comments have merit.

Scott Bill Hirst

The writer is the Hopkinton Town Moderator, chairperson of the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee and a former six term Hopkinton Town Council member.


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