One shouldn’t have to resign post to run for mayor

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

“It’s a drag being a cop. I think I’d rather be the mayor.” — Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, 1966, “Help, I’m a Rock”

Jennifer Antel

I had to do a little research at the Then & Now Historical Library to confirm that Wayland has a quirky rule that those who choose to run for mayor must resign their office first.

Current mayor-elect Jennifer Antel, who recently resigned in order to appear on the ballot alone Nov. 8, indicated that this puzzling regulation only applies to those who announce their candidacy more than a year before their current term expires.

Sure enough, in 1974, as I suspected, Councilman Robert Swartout resigned his seat in order to run against incumbent Mayor Marshall Towne in April 1974. He lost and then tried to regain his council seat the following year. He lost again.

I have yet to read or hear about the reason for this rule, only that it was included in the city charter that was approved in 1967. In other words, “we’ve always done it this way.”

I hereby resolutely urge the City Council to find away to revise the charter and strike this rule, which only causes some confusion and doesn’t seem to promote good government.

I don’t see why a council member should have to resign in order to run for mayor. The incumbent doesn’t have to do it. And those whose two-year terms expire that same year are permitted to run without resigning. Furthermore, Joe or Jane Citizen do not have to sacrifice anything in or order to run.

Some may consider me naïve because there must have been some reason why this was stipulated in that document known as the city charter more than a half century ago. I just don’t see it.

I don’t see anything wrong with Antel staying on as a council member until the mayoral election is decided. What possible mischief and mayhem could result? She will win Nov. 8 because she has no opposition, so let her continue to serve on the council until current Mayor Tim Bala vacates the post.

I’m a huge believer in rules and regulations in the interests of preserving an orderly and common sense society. But this one is just wrong-headed and confusing and it should be consigned to the dust heap of history.

1 Comment

  • The only possible explanation that I can think of is: The crafters of that rule were concerned that a defeated candidate in the Mayoral election would remain on the Council after the loss and conflict might carry over and impact the deliberations of the new Council. Most Mayoral elections have more than one candidate and, of course, with only one candidate the rule makes no sense whatsoever. It is very unusual for there to be a “one candidate” election in a Mayoral election. One can argue whether the “explanation” justifies the rule and the concern for conflict is misplaced, but what other explanation could there be?

    No doubt there is a loss to the community if the council member who must resign is productive and well motivated. On the other hand, a sore loser can be difficult and is best not perpetuated.

    In this case, it appears that the sole candidate will, in spite of the resignation, will continue on in a productive capacity and her work will benefit the community.

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