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Fairview council should choose replacements thoughtfully

Among members of the Fairview City Council this spring, harmony, cooperation and shared visions are increasingly rare commodities.

On Thursday, May 7, longtime Councilor Steve Owen became the second councilor in the past month to abruptly resign his seat, citing philosophical differences among the frequently divided, squabbling group of leaders.

Owen recently told The Outlook that Councilor Ted Kotsakis’ April 15 resignation caused him to reevaluate his role on what he sees as a council whose interests are hopelessly divided between Fairview Business Association (FBA) members and councilors not affiliated with the local group.

“... In light of what has happened recently, as it relates to Ted Kotsakis — a great guy — that he would make the decision to resign when he’s in a brand-new term, it didn’t take him long to evaluate the current makeup of the council and what their motives are,” Owen said in the wake of his resignation.

Owen admitted to being disgruntled at least since the city’s failed 2012 bid to buy the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Ranger. He said the final straw was what he considers an already done-deal decision to appoint FBA member Ed Bejarana to fill Kotsakis’ vacant position with no real discussion among the entire council.

At a May 13 work session, the council decided to extend the application deadline for both open seats to June 8. The Outlook supports this move. We hope it facilitates an open-minded approach to filling the seats with the most qualified and enthusiastic residents, regardless of their allegiance to the FBA.

Ideally, at least one of the appointments would be unaffiliated with the somewhat mysterious business association, which is frequently at odds with city staff and other leaders. Otherwise, votes on certain topics almost certainly would be dominated by FBA interests and negating votes by Mayor Ted Tosterud and Councilor Brian Cooper.

If at least a semblance of balance does not transpire from the two upcoming appointments — with four FBA members forming a majority voting bloc — The Outlook strongly encourages the new council to remember that with power comes responsibility.

Regardless of their desire to fulfill business association goals and mandates, the FBA members on the council must remember their primary responsibility: to see beyond their personal interests and reflect those of the larger Fairview citizenry they are chosen to represent.

Like the much-criticized U.S. Congress, the current Fairview City Council may not be in a golden era of cooperation and common goals, but fair and thoughtful consideration of new councilors is a fundamental step to furthering a city of which all residents can be proud.

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