Given the variety of viewpoints expressed during Tuesday’s Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly meeting, it was clear that the Assembly’s eventual 5-2 override of a mayoral veto would please some people and upset others.
Also clear was that our borough government and elected officials were following an appropriate process for making such decisions — which should be reassuring to everyone.
Ours is a representative democracy. On the local level, we elect individuals to represent us on rule-making entities such as assemblies, city councils and school boards, which are intended to operate according to agreed-upon codes, policies or bylaws. In this case, the elected officials and process operated appropriately.
The item in question was placed on the agenda for the Assembly’s meeting on Aug. 17 by two Assembly members in accordance with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Code.
During the public comment portion of the Aug. 17, 10 members of the general public made use of the opportunity to comment regarding the proposed item. Later in the meeting, the Assembly discussed the proposal and voted 6-1 in favor. The mayor notified the Assembly that he intended to veto the item, which he did later that day in accordance with borough code.
On Aug. 21, one of the seven Assembly members — who also was a sponsor of the original item — submitted a written request to place a proposed motion to override the mayor’s veto on the agenda for the Assembly’s meeting on Sept. 8. The request, which adhered to borough code, was duly placed on the agenda.
At Tuesday’s meeting, members of the public provided about two hours of comment before the Assembly discussed the proposed motion and ultimately voted 5-2 to override the veto and approve the item.
Each step was appropriate and transparent. The meetings and agendas were properly noticed. The public had ample opportunity to comment. The mayor and Assembly members acted within their respective authority. A decision was made.
Some decisions have full or near unanimous support. As noted above, this one does not.
But our local government conducted the appropriate process. We can — and should — appreciate that.
One more note. Our system includes regular opportunities for the public to express support or dissapproval, the most powerful of which are elections. The next local election is Oct. 6.