by Robb Davis
My decision to abstain from Monday night’s City Council vote on a contingent offer to Dirk Brazil has raised questions about my intent. I would note the following:
- The process of hiring the City Manager was undertaken in closed session. While some in the community question this process I believe it is necessary to enable us to conserve the anonymity of candidates who request it. It is clear to me that some of the fine candidates who applied would not have done so had the process not permitted anonymity.
- My decision to abstain should be understood as a decision to not participate in the vote. That is the plain meaning of abstention—non-participation.
- The reasons for my decision to not participate in the vote arose in the closed session and therefore I am not at liberty to share them. However, I did share them with my colleagues on the City Council and the consultant we hired to manage the process, all of who participated in the closed sessions. I did not seek my colleagues’ concurrence for my decision, but I did my best to explain my rationale to them. Though I cannot speak for them, I think I successfully described my reasons in an understandable way.
- My decision to not participate in this vote should not be construed as some “back door” or veiled means to vote “no” while preserving the appearance of neutrality. Had I wanted to vote “no” I would have done so. In abstaining I am neither reserving the right to question the decision later nor engaging in some kind of political machination. I merely concluded that I could not participate in the vote and indicated that via my abstention.
- I did not take my decision lightly or make it quickly. I considered it for some time and, so as to guard the integrity of the process, did not consult with anyone about it.
I very much look forward to working with Mr. Brazil and my colleagues on City Council in the months and years ahead to address the many challenges our city faces. Mr. Brazil will find me to be a hard worker, a frank interlocutor and a collaborative problem solver. I expect that he too will work hard, build a solid team, and position the City Council to navigate the many decisions before us. My sense from my limited interactions with Dirk is that we will work very well together.
I do not believe that it is necessary or desirable for the City Council to reach unanimity on all or even most decisions. What is necessary, and what I am committed to as a member of the City Council, is to conduct our business with respect for one another and for the processes that guide our work. I will continue to work with my colleagues to make decisions that I believe are in the best interests of this community.
If anyone has a question about this decision I would invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind, however, that I will not be able to share information from closed session discussions.