Two local boards are starting the new year with vacancies. The Brookville Area School Board of Directors has a vacant seat as does the Brookville Borough Council.
Vacancies occur from time to time. People come and go due to a variety of reasons. We have seen people resign for philosophical reasons, out of frustration, for personal reasons and for employment. The reasons may vary but the result is the same, a hole in the board. Some critical folks may say that being down one member of the board doesn’t matter. I disagree. Every voice on the board should matter. If an elected body speaks with only one voice then that body is doing a disservice to the public.
Surprisingly, there seems to be no specific method for filling the vacancies. Brookville Borough solicitor Jim Dennison said there is a time line however. The board has 30 days to fill the vacancy. I have never known the borough or the school district to take more than a month to fill a seat.
How these two boards fill vacancies is of interest. The school board places an advertisement and asks interested parties to submit a letter to the district. The current board members then interview candidates in a public forum. It is a transparent system that, at least ideally, brings the best candidate to the board.
The Brookville Borough Council takes a slightly different approach. The council is also soliciting applications but, instead of the public forum, the council members will select a candidate from the applicants.
Both of these approaches are admirable. The intent is to prevent one faction on either board exerting control over the selection process. The good old boy network might still prevail but the potential for a back channel draft is limited.
It will be interesting to see the process unfold.
The Brookville Borough Council is facing another, very important, position to fill. The resignation of Chief Jason Brown was a surprise to the council and set in motion a chain of events that will result in a new chief.
Even more so than in the past, the position of police chief is critical. Our small town is facing a crisis with drugs that spawns all sort of associated crime. The recent burglary of a gun shop is indicative of the transient crime we face.
The borough has been well served over the years. Chief Earl Smith, Chief Don Siple, Chief Ken Dworek and Chief Brown all were dedicated servants of the public. Their styles were different but the result was effective law enforcement.
The council will face a challenge to find someone equal to the past chiefs but an open and fair hiring process should produce yet another quality leader.
I would urge anyone who has an interest in either the school board or the council to submit a letter of interest. Democracy is best served when more of us are involved.