BELLEAIR BEACH - Eight weeks have gone by since the March 14 election that brought two new faces to the council and, in the aftermath of the election, resulted in the resignation of a sitting member that created a vacancy.
That vacant seat has persisted for eight weeks now and may continue for several more weeks and the process outlined at a City Council meeting last week raises possible questions about the method of filling the seat left vacant by Ken Lucci's resignation.
Richard Crowl and Mary Schoonover, the new faces on the council, are settling into their new jobs and will engage, along with their colleagues, in picking someone for the vacant seat.
What is troubling is the scenario outlined by the council at the May 1 meeting.
Four residents have offered themselves for the seat. They are Robert Burrell, a lawyer; George "Tony" Gevo, who is in sales and marketing; Joseph Kane, also a lawyer, and Kathleen Mortensen, a medical technologist.
Under the plan adopted, each of the candidates will give a two-minute presentation and then undergo questioning from the council for five minutes.
And that is where the concern comes in.
Observers, concerned in one respect by the long delay in filling the empty seat (other jurisdictions act quickly, within two weeks, in most cases), wonder about the questioning.
Obviously, the only issue at hand is the qualifications of the candidates. And those qualifications should be limited, strictly speaking, chiefly to minimum age and residency and to some degree education.
What positions candidates hold in regard to any issues in the city should not be explored. It would be totally inappropriate and could give the appearance of trying to "pack" the council.
Candidates in this limited forum should not, many think, indicate how they would vote on certain issues that may come before the council.
The overriding question, however, is why it has taken so long to do the simple task of filling an empty seat.
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