Opinion

Let the sun shine in on candidates | Editorial

It was disappointing that official at the city of Oak Harbor chose not to release the resumes of the three candidates for the police chief position. The city’s human resources department sent out a press release announcing the names of the three candidates and where they are from, but nothing else about the men who wish to fill the vital position.

The city has scheduled an informal meet-and-greet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Oak Harbor Fire Station. Interested residents will get the chance to meet Edgar Green of Port Townsend, Julius “Phil” Schenck of Sunnyside and Andrew Reinhardt of Prescott, Ariz. Unfortunately, residents probably won’t know much about the three men beforehand and will be at a disadvantage when it comes to insightful questioning. It’s not exactly the ingredients for an informative and meaningful event.

When he was running for mayor last year, Scott Dudley promised openness and transparency in his administration. When Dudley was a councilman, he criticized former Mayor Jim Slowik over open-government issues. Now as mayor, he’s fallen a little short. He wouldn’t release the names of the police chief candidates for weeks and now he won’t let people see the resumes.

Dudley told a News-Times reporter last week that the panel interview with the candidates, scheduled for Friday, will be open to the public. But the interim human resources director sent a note to the newspaper Tuesday stating that the interviews won’t be open.

By contrast, former Mayor Jim Slowik released the resumes of the finalists when he was mayor and opened up the interviews to anyone who wanted to watch.

Tim Ford, the open government ombudsman at the state Attorney General’s Office, said city officials legally don’t have to release the candidates’ names or resumes, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. There are plenty of exemptions to the state’s Open Public Records Act, though the Attorney General’s Office has been working to close some of the loopholes.

But even when information is exempt from disclosure, city officials can and should still elect to release just about any documents officials create or receive in pursuit of an informed and interested public.

The city is currently accepting applications for the city attorney and will be advertising the city administrator position. Plenty of people will be genuinely interested in the process. Hopefully the mayor won’t leave them in the dark.

 

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