It wasn't a highlight for the city of Nashville when Mayor Megan Barry entered guilty pleas to criminal charges and resigned from her office earlier this year.
That was March 6.
Despite the cloud of controversy surrounding Mayor Barry, her resignation was a bit of a surprise. But Nashville was able to act fast and just 79 days later, on May 24, the city held an election for mayor. Nashville voters had the chance to go to the polls and determine their top official.
Now the city of McMinnville is in a similar spot. We don't have the controversy that surrounded Mayor Barry's departure, but we're left without a mayor after Jimmy Haley won the election last night to become our next county executive.
Haley still has more than two years left on his term as mayor, leaving a giant void atop the city leadership tree. What's McMinnville to do?
Fortunately, Nashville has shown us a mayor's race can get on the ballot and be voted on in 79 days. So it should be no trouble at all for the city of McMinnville to get the mayor's race on the ballot for the upcoming Nov. 6 election, which is a full 96 days away.
Without getting the mayor's race on the November ballot, we could be left with an appointed mayor for more than two years. It's easy to understand appointing a mayor for six months, or even a year in a pinch. But two years is extreme.
It's important to note city races are already on the ballot for November when three of the city's six alderman seats are up for election. Qualifying for those races is still ongoing with the qualifying deadline two weeks away on Thursday, Aug. 16.
It would seem almost a matter of ease to include the mayor's race in that election. Most candidates can pick up their qualifying papers and obtain the necessary 25 signatures the same day.
There are sure to be mountains of excuses as to why this can't happen: 1) The turnaround is too fast. 2) Last night's election won't be certified for over a week so any action until that point would be premature. 3) Potential candidates won't have enough time to campaign. 4) It would require a special vote to modify procedure.
Of course these are just lame excuses, not legitimate reasons.
If Nashville can do it in 79 days, we here in McMinnville can certainly do it in 96. We like to claim we're just as smart and talented as the big-city folks, but that's just empty talk if we can't find a way to fulfill a basic tenet of democracy and let the people decide who will serve them.
The short of it is McMinnville needs a mayor. The best way to determine our new mayor is to let the voters decide who that person will be.
It may require a little extra work, but city officials should not take the lazy or self-serving way out. Let McMinnville residents elect the next McMinnville mayor in November.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.