EDITORIAL: Stop the games at the MWRD, and let the voters decide

SHARE EDITORIAL: Stop the games at the MWRD, and let the voters decide
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Left-Right: David J. Walsh. mwrd.org photo; Cam Davis. File Photo. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times.

For an agency that is supposed to clean things up, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District remains surprisingly mired in murky developments over who will fill an opening on its nine-member board after the Nov. 6. election.

Last week, the MWRD asked a Cook County judge to decide who should fill the seat — someone elected by voters or someone appointed by the governor.

EDITORIAL

Can we be clear about this? The answer is obvious: the voters.

The fight over the seat began after Commissioner Tim Bradford died last Dec. 1, three days before the candidate filing deadline. The candidates getting into the race to replace him at that point had time to file only as write-in candidates because it was too late to circulate petitions.

Strangely, Gov. Bruce Rauner decided that gave him the authority to bypass voters and appoint David J. Walsh, who already sits on the board through an earlier appointment, to fill the open seat through 2020.

But the Chicago Board of Elections and Cook County Clerk David Orr, who runs suburban elections, don’t agree, and say the voters should decide.

They ruled the write-in winners of the March party primary elections would be on the Nov. 6 ballot. M. Cameron Davis won the Democratic nomination and Geoffrey Cubbage won the Green Party slot.

That’s when things got even murkier. In early September, an item mysteriously appeared on the MWRD agenda calling for ignoring the results of the March primary election and the upcoming November general election and letting Rauner’s appointee fill the seat. The item quickly disappeared.

RELATED

• EDITORIAL: Don’t let Rauner blow off democracy in MWRD race

• Battle to fill water district vacancy goes to court

Last week, in a legal filing naming Orr, the Chicago Board of Elections, Walsh, and Davis Cubbage as defendants, the MWRD said it wants a judge to decide who is going to fill the seat — the Rauner appointee or the winner of the Nov. 6 vote. This is a totally unnecessary step. We already have a democratic way to fill the seat — through an election. Ballots already are in the process of being printed.

Let’s hope the judge understands that the voters made their intentions known in the March primary election. They have picked two candidates, and the winner between the two should be the next commissioner.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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