We know it’s likely that either Steve Ashworth or Jonathan Cannon will be the new Baker City manager.

We also know that the City Council prefers one of the two.

What we don’t know is whether Cannon or Ashworth is the Council’s top choice.

We should know.

The City Council had the legal authority, under Oregon’s Public Meetings Law, to discuss the three city manager candidates — councilors dropped Scott McClure from contention — during an executive session, which was closed to the public, on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Councilors also rightly reconvened in a public session after that discussion to announce that they had authorized Mayor Loran Joseph to negotiate with one of the two finalists, and also with the other if the first negotiation didn’t yield a tentative contract to bring to the Council for approval.

When the Herald asked Joseph which of the pair he’ll be negotiating with initially, he said the Council didn’t want to reveal its preference because “they were so close that we would feel comfortable with either of these two candidates and what we don’t want to do is to create any hard feelings.”

This isn’t the election of a high school student body president.

Ashworth and Cannon are vying for a job that likely will have an annual salary between $100,000 and $115,000. It’s farfetched to believe that if Joseph can’t reach a tentative agreement with one candidate, then the other would turn down the job solely because he wasn’t quite the Council’s top choice.

Baker City residents shouldn’t have to resort to guessing which of the two candidates their elected representatives most want to hire.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor

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