Letter: When is it really an election?
The Oct. 26 article, "Maxwell fire board directors appointed anyway," declares, "After pulling the authority for selecting their own fire district directors from the county Board of Supervisors in April, Maxwell area residents still had no say in who would sit on the Fire Protection District board." Not true.
An "election" is a multi-step process. November's cycle begins in July. Public notices and news releases informing candidates of how to file appeared in this publication. When the filing period opens on any election candidates have four weeks (20 working days) to file. Add five additional days if the incumbent does not file.
The notice includes information on the course of action taken at the close of the filing period if the number of candidates turns out to be the same or less than the number of available seats. The process also includes the option for citizens to submit a petition calling for an election should they desire that an election be held anyway, which then opens the door for write-in candidates to file.
This is the standard procedure, set by law when the number of candidates filed does not exceed the number of seats up for election. This appointment makes public the fact that an election will not be required to be held, and who the directors are.
The appointees take office and serve exactly as if elected and are considered elected.
If the Board of Supervisors fails to appoint directors in those districts with no candidates or not enough candidates, a vacancy will occur when the current directors' terms expire on Dec 2.
If that situation is created, the Special Districts themselves must make the appointments within 60 days or call a special election to fill the vacancy. However, those appointees can only serve until the next regularly scheduled election creating a two year, rather than four-year term. As you can see, any inaction on the part of the Board of Supervisors or the Special Districts with regard to these vacancies results in unnecessary expense for the districts up to and including a special election.
The article states, "only five people filed" for Maxwell Fire. There were five seats available, and after ample opportunity, five people filed. District voters could have petitioned for an election if they were not satisfied with the candidates. This did not happen.
With regard to the Maxwell Fire District Directors terms, the article states that "the board" will determine the directors terms. It should be noted that it is the Maxwell Fire District directors themselves who will determine the terms, as this is their first election. They will do so by using a random method such as drawing straws with the short straw resulting in the two-year term, flipping a coin, drawing lots, etc.
The article called the Maxwell Fire election turnout low, "just 35.6 percent." (Todd R. Hansen) that was a great turnout, especially for a mail ballot special election with one measure. The statewide average for the last special election was 20 percent.
All the bureuacratic rhetoric aside, the Colusa County Sun-Herald stands by its reporting. No ballot was created or distributed, and no vote was taken. There was no election. The rest is just process.
And while 35.6 may be a "great" turnout when compared to other low turnouts, it is, in fact, a low turnout with nearly two-thirds of eligible voters choosing not to vote.
To read the story, go to www.colusa-sun-herald.com/news/fire-7452-fuss-anyway.html.