Saturday, February 23, 2008

District 2A Delegate Appointment Proceeding in Secrecy

The resignation of District 2A (Washington County) Delegate Robert A. McKee promises scandal in the newspapers for some time to come. But the appointment process to replace him may also be scandalous.

As readers of this blog know, when a state legislator steps down, the county central committee of his or her party selects the replacement. This process has been used seven times over the last year (Senate 35, 39 and 47; Delegate 16, 18, 35A and 39). Voters have no role until the next regular election, which can often be several years away.

Yesterday, the Gazette reported the following about the District 2A appointment process now underway:

Meanwhile, Washington County Republican Central Committee leaders are tight-lipped on the process to replace McKee.

Interested candidates had until Thursday to apply, but committee chairwoman Penny Pittman declined to say how many people have submitted applications or expressed interest in the vacancy. She also did not say when the committee would interview candidates.

‘‘We are not leaking anything to the press,” she said Thursday. ‘‘We are not [releasing the interview date] either so that we won’t have the members of the media waiting outside to question candidates. We are choosing to convey information through press releases so that information is conveyed accurately.”
Contrast this with the appointment process used by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee for the District 18 Delegate vacancy. MCDCC posted all applications on its website. They posted as many recommendation letters as they could. (Ultimately, there were too many letters for Al Carr for the committee to keep up with.) The District 18 Caucus hosted an open candidates forum and moderator Charles Duffy accepted written questions from the audience. Multiple MCDCC members posted their reasoning for their votes on this site. And on the night of selection, MCDCC allowed Kevin Gillogly to cover the process on this blog and voted by open ballot.

Is MCDCC's appointment process perfect? No, and we will continue to discuss it. Did they make a real effort to increase the transparency of their process? Absolutely, and they deserve credit for it. The Washington County Republican Central Committee would do well to adopt the reforms used by MCDCC.

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