With a week to go before the deadline to apply for the Santa Rosa City Council vacancy, how many people have filed? The answer is zero. As of Tuesday, the city had yet to receive a completed application, according to the city clerk.
A number of people apparently have taken out applications, but City Clerk Terri Griffin says they’not keeping track.
And here’s the kicker. When the candidates do file, the city plans to keep it a secret – until the deadline passes. We will not be able to report on who has filed until Wednesday morning. Why? Apparently, because they think it will somehow protect the integrity of the process. Candidates won’t be able to look at their answers to the city’s questionnaire, for example.
My question is, how is this not a violation of the California Public Records Act? It seems if the public has any compelling interest in the workings of goverment it’s in knowing who is formally seeking public office. If someone runs for City Council, their name is make public often when they pull papers but certainly when they file papers to run. It is public record. So why would the process for someone filing for appointment to a City Council seat be any different?
Furthermore, it seems to me that keeping the names secret has the potential of influencing the process in a negative way. Isn’t it likely that someone may choose to run – or not to run – based on who has already filed? If it comes down to the fact that only one or two candidates have applied as of next Monday, the pressure will be great to know who those individuals are while there’s still time for someone else to jump in the fray. Certainly, those who file will know as well as those in certain political circles. Of course, a handful of employees at City Hall will know as well. But the rest of the public will be left in the dark.
If the city wants to keep the answers to questionnaires secret, for competitive reasons, until next Wednesday, I have no problem with that. But let the public know who has filed to fill to serve them in public office. It’s their right to know.
- Paul Gullixson