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State should fix appointees

Filling vacant seats on local government councils and boards would be more democratic if the state implemented guidelines that took voters wishes into account.

This issue recently became a hot topic in the village of Coal Grove after councilman-elect Glen Markins passed away before officially taking office.

The Ohio Revised Code stipulates that the council has up to 30 days to appoint anyone they choose or that duty falls to the mayor.

Coal Grove’s council voted to appoint Bob Markins, the son of Glenn Markins. This move has drawn both criticism and praise from the community. While many residents have said the council made a solid appointment, others feel that the council should have appointed the next highest vote getter from the past election.

That logic does make sense but, as the law stands right now, nothing says the council has to do that.

We would like to see the state incorporate this into the ORC because it places the decision of filling vacancies back on the voters rather than on the officials.

The goal would be to encourage more voter turnout and also prevent potential abuse through the -isms that run rampant through many local governments: favoritism, nepotism and cronyism.

We are not saying that occurred in this case and this isn’t critical of the village council’s decision to appoint Bob Markins. They did what they felt was right and were within the law to do so. And Markins has the opportunity to serve as an excellent leader for the community he loves.

We simply would like to see the state make this change to ensure that those who stepped forward to seek an office — gathered signatures, filed petitions, campaigned — have the first opportunity if a position opens up.

The City of Ironton has used this policy in recent years. Most recently, Mike Lutz, who missed being elected by a handful of votes, was appointed to the council to fill an unexpired term. In the next election he led the ticket with the most votes.

It simply makes sense for the state to require that appointees be drawn from the pool of candidates seeking the office in the first place.