January 10, 2017.
The 2017 Leesburg Town Council, under newly-elected Mayor Kelly Burk, is off to an inauspicious start.
We’ve heard grumblings about poor communication and divisiveness before the new Council even got started, and the way it selected Hugh Forsythe to fill a vacancy will surely add fuel to the fire.
The Tribune addressed this in an article published today.
We won’t opine here on the merits of selecting Forsythe over any of the other 13 Leesburg residents interested in the position, including the five the Council voted on last night. But we wish him well.
What we do know is that the Council looked incompetent in how it managed the selection process, and could not muster the necessary four votes in favor of any one candidate. Instead of figuring out what to do about this dilemma in the course of the public meeting, Burke and her colleagues went into a closed session to decide.
Presto, Forsythe emerged from these private deliberations.
Council members who supported this approach can try to rationalize it any way they want, but that was public business conducted behind closed doors, and an improper use of a closed session. They shouldn’t have done it, and the public has a right to know what was said and done to break the tie votes conducted in public.
We credit council members Tom Dunn and Ken Reid for opposing the closed session, and hope they and others will insist on transparency. Legality too.
So early in the new year, and so wrong.