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Questioning the questionnaire

Dear Editor:

Often the questions we ask reveal a lot about us. Such is the case with the 22-question, take-home test our City Council requires of each of the five finalists for the open seat on council.

Apparently the council considers political leanings and positions on local issues to be more important than decision-making skills, leadership experience, past public service and teamwork skills. See the 22, rather surprising, council-crafted questions at http://www.TheRedAnt.com and make your own judgment. Consider how you would respond if asked these questions.

Neither the applications nor the questions require any information on education, personal history, background, career experience, but especially potential conflicts of interests. Apply for an account at The Miner’s Building and you’ll have to give more information than for a City Council seat! Could it be that council members feel that they know the finalists and their personal affairs so well that such inquiry is unnecessary? Hmmm.

Apparently the council believes that they are being “lied to” by citizens, and go so far as to ask how a candidate would react. (Perhaps they’re looking for a new member to help abuse citizens when they dare to challenge council direction, which some council members characterize as “misrepresentation.”)

One of the more appalling questions is asking candidates for a commitment as to whether or not they’ll run for council in May 2009, when Mick and Jack may be running as incumbents. The mere notion of trying to influence the race as part of this process appears to be self-serving governance and unadorned politics. Such a question should cause us all to question the appropriateness of these governance standards. And especially, why we tolerate such low standards.

Our City Council is elected ” based on charter requirements ” to avoid political party partisan politics. Regardless of which presidential slate we support, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike are offended by the partisan nature of the final question of the 22. Whether it is an attempt to elicit the candidate’s position on presidential politics or a juvenile attempt at humor, it has no place on a formal questionnaire for council decision-making.

We will gain interesting insights into how our council views their roles, responsibilities and priorities as we watch them appoint the next council member.

Let’s hope that they invite GrassRoots TV to film the public interviews with the council candidates, and reinforce their stated commitment to transparency.

Regardless of the outcome, the 19 citizens who volunteered for this huge effort of public service deserve our appreciation and acknowledgment.

Marilyn Marks

Aspen


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