His Voice: Unique perspective on open council seat
by Michael Maciel / Submitted to the Tracy Press
Nov 30, 2012 | 3798 views | 19 19 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since the results of the Nov. 6 election have become clear, there has been a great deal of buzz in town regarding how the soon-to-be-vacated seat of Councilman Bob Elliott should be filled for the remaining two years of his term.

There is a concerted effort, complete with soaring rhetoric, encouraging the appointment of the third-highest vote-getter with little or no consideration of alternative means of filling the seat.

Terms like “do what’s right” and “democratic principles” are being employed to support this proposition. I strongly disagree.

While the “third place” solution is seductively simple and certainly has a commonsense appeal initially, when you break down the facts — regardless of who the affected candidate might be — it is a deeply flawed concept.

I believe I am uniquely qualified to address this matter.

In the November 2006 election, I placed third in balloting for two open council seats and subsequently applied for the vacant seat created when Councilman Brent Ives was elected mayor. Prior to the appointment process that the council decided on, many people told me I should be appointed based on my third-place finish.

My consistent response to that was that the election was not for the open seat and that the council had no obligation to appoint me based on the vote tally.

Nowhere on that 2006 ballot was there any reference to the vacancy that might have been created by the results of the mayoral race.

Voters were asked to elect two council members to full four-year terms out of a field of six candidates, which they did. That was the end of the electoral process for City Council seats in that election.

Filling the vacancy that was created required a completely separate process.

I earned 1,100 more votes than the fourth-place candidate in 2006. Had the council appointed me based solely on that vote difference, those 1,100 votes would have been made golden, having much greater value than any other votes.

It would have also meant that every other voter would have been disenfranchised, in that they would never have had the opportunity to vote for any candidate to fill the remainder of then-Councilman Ives’ term.

There were a total of 15,403 voters in the mayoral race of 2006, where there was only one seat in play. This is a more accurate count of actual voters than the council race, where votes can be cast for two candidates. To have appointed me based on my third-place finish would have meant that an elected position would have been filled based on significantly less than 10 percent of the vote in an election that never included the office in question on the ballot.

This is a poor example of democratic principles.

Those who champion the appointment of the third-place candidate would also have us assume that if the two winners of the election had not been on the ballot, the finishing order of the remainder of the field would have been the same. This is more flawed logic.

As is always the case when I write to the Tracy Press, the opinions I express are mine and mine alone, and I speak as a private citizen. It is my intention to specifically address a process that is being proposed that I believe is improper.

I am not advocating for or against anyone who might desire to fill the vacancy that exists. I have deep respect for all the council candidates who were not elected. Through their service and community involvement, they all have shown they are assets to Tracy.

If a decision is made to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Councilman Elliott’s seat, I would encourage them apply if they so desire, as would I encourage any other eligible citizen who wants to serve on the council.

It should then be the job of the council to objectively interview all applicants and collectively decide who would best serve Tracy. By law, this process would be conducted in open council session to ensure transparency. Another alternative would be to have a special election. This a decision the new council will face.

I do not believe that blindly appointing the third-place candidate would have been the right answer in 2006, and it’s not the right answer now.

When you consider the points that have been raised, it is difficult to rationalize the proposal that an appointment should be based solely on the finishing order of the unsuccessful candidates.

The community deserves a better, more open process.

• Michael Maciel is the mayor pro tem of Tracy and was first elected to the City Council in 2008.
Comments
(19)
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myopinion_100
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December 19, 2012
Maciel, he should've really thought before he had this article printed in the newspaper. What good does this do to have our community hear you pick sides. You clearly state you are not even in close favor of Ray Morelos. This is what he must do in his free time. Now, he can say he is not in favor of giving the seat to Morelos because he's on the council now and doesn't care even though he was in this situation years ago. Undoubtly, he wants one his buddies to get the seat instead. TRACY NEEDS DIVERSITY ON THE COUNCIL. We have an educated black woman, and could use an educated Hispanic on the council, not another white man.
me-here
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December 12, 2012
Obvious, Elliott, Ives and Maciel DO NOT WANT Ray Morelas on the council because Moreles is not in step with their agenda. Moreles supports the airport 4002 feet rather than the barely 4000 feet 2 inches the major 3 support...why...cuz they want to build houses at the end of the runway. It's support to be 4002 feet not 4000.2

feet. Major difference in FAA rulings.

Probably would support Rickman and Young's plans for Tracy rather than the Major 3. With Elliott gone, Ives and Maciel need another cohort appointed.Surland Development Agreements still hanging out there.

Wake up Tracy....we have dictators in office.
myopinion_100
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December 19, 2012
I agree. Ives & Maciel don't want more diversity on the council team. They want "one of their buddies" to take the open seat. Obviously Maciel made it clear when he wrote the article he doesn't want Ray Morelos!
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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December 03, 2012
Why don't th City Council write articles in th paper tellin us what is goin on an what thair doin?
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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December 03, 2012
Th answer is found in th comments below. A City Councilman does what th public wishes an writes in th news his thoughts on th issue an suddenly people don't wanna hear. Is it any wonder why th rest of City Council don't say anythang?

me-here
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December 01, 2012
Mike doin' his usual blather. He does like to hear himself, doesn't he. Since we know how he would vote on the council, all the more his opinion needs to be removed.

Morelos has been in the council meetings audience all the time, he knows the issues and the background more than many. How can we induce the council the make the right choice with someone like Maciel having a dissenting vote?
myopinion_100
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December 19, 2012
Yes, Maciel has made it crystal clear he has his mind made up on who he will not vote for. I can't believe mayor Ives is allowing his bias face to be on the subcommittee for the Jan. 15 council meeting, when they will decide who will get the open seat. Wait! I can believe it because Maciel & Ives can't think for themselves, but are nothing close to being unique!
TracyNative
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November 30, 2012
Why doesn't Mike Maciel want Ray Morelos on the council? Now, I find that rather interesting.
whoareyoukidding
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November 30, 2012
This is a perfect example of less is more. Mike talk less and do more for the community.
oldshoe
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November 30, 2012
hey mike, why don't you like moralas??
jarbuckle
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November 30, 2012
I would agree with your comment Mr. Maciel that ,

"The community deserves a better, more open process" Thats why I would not support the City council appointing the next councilman. Because as you state in your letter, "every other voter would have been disenfranchised, in that they would never have had the opportunity to vote for any candidate to fill the remainder of" Mr Elliott's term.

jarbuckle
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November 30, 2012
It would have also meant that every other voter would have been disenfranchised, in that they would never have had the opportunity to vote for any candidate to fill the remainder of then-Councilman Ives’ term.
dcose
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November 30, 2012
"The voters of Tracy should be doing the appointment - not the Council."

The candidate ballot composition changes the election results. People vote from the list of candidates or write-in their selections. Had the voters wished a different result, they obviously would have voted differently and... by the primary election results they were already aware there was a reasonable chance Mr. Elliot's seat would become available. We elect people to make decisions knowing they will make them as they see fit.

Elections and appointments are not foregone conclusions. The voters elect the Council to make decisions on how this is to be handled. Appoint whomever, hold a special election... their choice
Seek_the_Truth
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November 30, 2012
dcose makes a (gulp) valid point...but I'll take it one step further...

Had the City properly prepared for a replacement to be voted in to replace Elliott (after the primary), there would have either been 3 votes given to each voter OR there would have been another section on the ballot with a single vote for a candidate solely running for Elliott’s (potentially) vacant seat.

With all due respect to the candidates, this is the true democratic process according to the registrar of voters.

Since the 3rd seat wasn't properly claimed by the voters, maybe a special election is in order. Of course this would mean more signs around town...on second thought, let’s allow our elected officials to do their job and appoint the best candidate.

behonestguys
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November 30, 2012
seek_the_truth:

I think we can both agree the City messed this up by not doing proper planning to have the necessary language appear on the ballot to allow the voters to choose Elliott's replacement in the event he won, which he did. With that said, I would part ways with you on the merits of leaving it up to the Council to appoint a replacement versus holding a special election for the people to choose. The fact that a special election will cost money, and gee, will allow signs to sprout up, I guess that's a small price to pay for democracy, which can seem inconvenient at times to some folks. Oh, and just because the Council had used the appointment path versus special election path in the past, thereby creating a "precedent", doesn't make it right. Up until 60 years ago, based on "precedent", separate but equal was the law of the land, but even though it was "precedent", that didn't make it right.
Seek_the_Truth
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December 02, 2012
Regardless of your preferred candidate, the City Council and Mayor will either appoint a person of their choosing OR approve a special election.

In order to keep the peace and reduce the speculation of back-room deals, I believe a Special Election is in order.

At the Council meeting on Dec 4th, I urge you to approach the council and request a SPECIAL ELECTION – a cheap price to pay for democracy.

I also urge you to request future elections be prepared with the appropriate votes so that the 3rd highest vote will earn the open seat. With the mayor’s seat open in two years and one, maybe two council members eyeing it already, we need to ensure three votes are given for three “possible” seats. This way, the election results are accurate, the democratic process prevails and everyone is “happy”

Macpup
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November 30, 2012
First, there is no way that Mr. Maciel can truly speak as a private citizen because he is a Council Member. As such, he will make the decision to appoint or hold an election for the Elliot vacancy, so he cannot be unbiased. When I voted, it wasn't just to fill the 2 vacancies, it was for who I thought was the best candidate for the City Council. Since Mr. Morales got the 3rd highest votes as the "best candidate", he should be appointed to fill Mr. Elliot's term. The voters of Tracy should be doing the appointment - not the Council.
behonestguys
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November 30, 2012
This City spends tons of money each year on outside consultants and hiring outside law firms to defend it against employment lawsuits. I think spending $250,000.00 on a special election to let the electorate choose Mr. Elliott's replacement instead of leaving it in the hands of the Council, where it will be prone to backroom deals. $250,000.00 is a small price to pay for maintaining the integrity of our democratic principles - especially when you compare it with the price paid over the 236-year history of our Republic by the hundreds of thousands of men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today. The life of any one of those brave souls is priceless, and a $250,000.00 price tag is a pittance to uphold the principles for which they fought and died for so that, in the words of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, government of the people, by the people and for the people would not perish from the face of this Earth.
rayderfan
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November 30, 2012
One cannot place a price tag on the cost of democracy. With this in mind the City Council should approve the money for a new election to elect a replacement to fill the position vacated by Elliott, rather than leave it in the hands of those elected to city council.

This will ensure a fair and transparent process and will eliminate any questions or speculation of favoritism, cronyism, or behind the scenes deals.


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