Should we elect; why can’t we toss?

JGFitzgerald -- April 30th, 2008

The Harrisonburg treasurer case has been a surprise and often a revelation in ways having nothing to do with the facts of the case. Two questions arise from the civics lessons involved. First, should we still be electing the treasurer and the commissioner of the revenue? Second, do we need a better structure for removing elected officials from office?

4 Responses to “Should we elect; why can’t we toss?”

  1. Justin says:

    It’s never made sense to me why we elect for offices that have nothing to do with political decisions. Multi-million dollar business aren’t run this way, why should small government offices be. Not that hiring someone would hedge against embezzlement or any other white collar crimes, but at least then firing people would be much easier.

  2. Dave Briggman says:

    We don’t hire the state Treasurer…I don’t see any reason to elect any of the “Constitutional” Officers…

  3. finnegan says:

    Other than “it’s tradition” or “because that’s the way Byrd wanted it to be,” I don’t know why over half of the positions are elected. Treasurer, Clerk of Court, Commissioner of Revenue, etc. Last election, I recall Soil and Water Conservation Director being on the ballot. Voters don’t even know what that is. Why are those positions elected, yet City Manager isn’t (not that I’m saying it should be)?

    Where the “unelection” process is concerned, I’m sure the majority of the public wishes unseating an elected official was easier than it is. I’m thinking of anti-Clinton conservatives after Lewinsky Gate, or anti-war progressives who would love to oust Bush for the war in Iraq. After all, Clinton was impeached, but stayed in office. How is that possible?

    In practice, the legal process is not what it appears to be to the average outsider.

  4. JGFitzgerald says:

    There is some historical precedent, some political, some practical. British assessors (the true task of the CommRev) were such enemies of the Irish people that “bad cess to ye” became an Irish curse. Some have always felt there should be a way to fire the assessor if taxes grow too great. Granted, the office now mostly assesses according to laws it can’t control, so the argument’s history, not policy.

    The sensible cut-off to election vs. appointment would seem to be setting policy vs. carrying it out. A dork in the Senate can doze, drink or dally until we get a chance to throw him out, but a bad prosecutor, just for instance, could do real damage. We’ve had good luck with Const. Officers in this area, but I once edited a story in Petersburg about a grand larceny trial. The defendant walked because the commonwealth’s attorney (a shrewd and talented politician) forgot to establish that the stolen Cadillac was worth more than $100.

    Need somebody to manage a large enterprise, such as assessing a few billion dollars worth of property or running law enforcement for an 850-square-mile county with 100,000 people? Well, what party are they?

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