There are a few basic functions that city residents anywhere should expect from their elected city councilors: Beyond just showing up to public meetings, citizens should expect that their city councilors actually promote progress within city government.

If you’re looking for an example of a city government that’s violating that basic rule, look no further than Fairview.

What’s this all about?

To answer that question, we need to return to Oct. 14, 2013, when Councilor Ken Quinby announced he had accepted an out-of-state sales job and that he would vacate his council seat mid term. That led to an announcement that the council was accepting applications from city residents interested in completing Quinby’s unexpired term.

Great news. There were eight people within the community who stepped forward, each willing to commit to this important job. At a time when it’s becoming increasingly difficult to entice anyone to volunteer for anything, the fact that eight people stepped forward is noteworthy by itself.

These were eight people ready to dive into the deep end of local politics, helping to make choices that would guide Fairview toward a more prosperous future. Surely out of these eight candidates was at least one who possessed the necessary qualifications.

Of those who applied for the position were some newcomers to city government who needed more experience before they could be considered for a council seat. And there were other applicants who obviously fell onto one side or the other of the polarization that seems to cripple the current Fairview Council.

But there were several solid applicants who would have been good choices as replacements for Quinby. In each case, the City Council deadlocked at 3-3 (divided into two voting blocs) when voting on five applicants.

Unable — or unwilling — to reach a compromise, or to break from their polarized positions, the Fairview City Council did the worst thing imaginable: It shrugged its collective shoulders and pushed the decision off until the November 2014 election.

What’s the big deal? First, voters elect councilors to make these types of decisions. Failure to do so amounts to a breach of contract between the voting public and those elected.

The city of Fairview now has a council made up of six voting members, divided into two voting alliances. Between now and November, the city faces important decisions on the appointment of volunteers to city commissions, the question of whether the city will form its own fire department, and dozens of choices related to planning and contracts. There is a very real possibility that the polarization of the Fairview Council — lacking a deciding seventh vote — will stagnate in the months leading up to the November election.

That’s poor city governance. In future elections, Fairview’s residents should remember this council’s failure to work toward the common good.

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