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March 27, 2001 12:00 am

Tragedy and turns of fate have left three vacancies on the Baker City Council in less than two years.

The vacancy created by Lance Daniels resignation is the first since last Novembers city council election, however.

Daniels has presented the council with an opportunity to break with the past and set a new precedent in filling council vacancies.

In replacing Karen Yeakley, who moved out of the city limits, and Jim Lethlean, who died in a tragic freeway accident, the council appointed Baker City residents who had served on the council before.

The haste of these appointments offered little opportunity for public input or council debate.

That should change.

We would advise the council to publicly advertise for applicants and nominations, then interview those candidates at a regular or special meeting of the city council that is open to the public.

City councilors are not staff. They are not subject to the same sorts of restrictive disclosure rules as a police officer or secretary.

And they are elected to represent voters in city government.

To leave the publics input out of their selection would be a disservice to voters, who deserve a voice; and to council, who would be well served by the publics counsel.