Suwannee Democrat


February 19, 2014

Democrat Says: Police chief should not be elected

Live Oak —

The Live Oak chief of police position has been the center of discussion for several weeks now as the Live Oak Charter Review Committee and the Live Oak City Council discussed whether or not to amend the charter to make the position of police chief an elected post or keep it as an appointed position, as it currently is. The council voted last week 3-2 to put it on the May ballot to let the people decide. However, the measure still has to pass two public readings before it’s final.

Councilman John Yulee brought the matter up at the city council meeting on Feb. 11, stating an appointed position is showing “favoritism.”

According to Yulee, the definition of favoritism is “unfair treatment to some people or showing special favor to someone.”

We believe the chief of police position has been shown favoritism recently: unfair treatment.

The only elected officials in the city of Live Oak government are the five city councilmen, the mayor and the city clerk.

Besides the police chief position, the city administrator, Live Oak fire chief, finance director and public works director are all appointed positions. Why weren’t they included in discussions to be elected positions?

At a previous council meeting, two recommendations were presented to the council from the Live Oak Charter Review Committee, one which supported placing the position on the ballot, and one that opted for it to remain appointed. The council agreed to take each recommendation under review. 

Qualified concerns

Yulee further stated, “An appointed position is considered favoritism ... It should be open for anyone to run for chief of police.”

According to the Supervisor of Elections office, the only requirement to be a candidate for a city or county office is they must be a registered voter. However, with an appointed position, a pool of candidates are interviewed and the individual thought to be most qualified is selected by a panel of five members to hold the position. The appointed person must also answer to those five; an elected person would not have to. 

We believe the recommendation to change the police chief position to an elected position was not in the best interest of the city.

In the words of Yulee, “We are not in the business to show favoritism to anyone.”

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