County Commission Candidate Mitzi Yates Speaks Out For Public Interviews Of School Board Appointee
Janis Hashe, Wed March 7, 2012
Following a County Commission meeting today, Mitzi Yates, Democratic candidate for county commissioner in the 3rd District, spoke out forcefully in favor of increased transparency and public participation in selecting an appointee to replace the retiring Everett Fairchild.
“The Hamilton County Commission's tradition of conducting business outside of the public eye continues unabated,” she stated. “While it is true that circumstances occur making necessary an appointment to an office that under normal circumstances requires an election, and while I applaud Commissioner Greg Beck's desire for more openness in the upcoming appointment to the School Board, I am afraid the end result will once again be a decision made in secret.”
She continued, “I predict that the public will be allowed to hear prepared questions with prepared answers, and then be given an opportunity to ask a few questions. But in the end, a decision will be made behind closed doors.” Yates firmly disagrees with this process. “The citizens of District 3 should be given access to the qualifications of each candidate before a decision is made. When the commission’s vote is taken, it should be taken publicly, with each commissioner making a brief statement of the reasons behind his vote.”
Yates, whose stance on making county government more transparent is key to her campaign, pointed to a disturbing trend. “Making these appointments in secret is neither necessary or appropriate. This behavior creates first a distrust and then a disconnect from the people county commissioners have been elected to serve. At present, we are represented by an appointed county mayor, my home district is represented by an appointed commissioner, and soon, judgments will be made by an appointed judge—all appointments that were made deliberately in secret.
“Faced with yet another appointment, the County Commission again desires to conduct business behind closed doors. Voters and taxpayers of Hamilton County deserve better. Now is the time for our county commission to comply with the Sunshine Law immediately, or offer a complete explanation of why repeated violations are so necessary,” Yates concluded.