PE supervisors must toss out the coin

Published 12:35 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Understandably, there are already rumblings in political circles about who’s going to be the next chairman of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors.

The sought-after top spot on the board is elected by its membership every two years, and is due for a fresh look on Jan. 12.

Let’s rewind almost two years to Jan. 14, 2014. Because of a deadlocked 4-4 vote for both chairman and vice chairman, supervisors resorted to chance to decide who would lead the eight-member body.

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The decision was out of the elected representatives’ hands on their own doing. Up went the coin and down went the voices of Prince Edward voters.

Physics and luck at that moment in time decided who would serve as the next chair and vice chair of the board — not the supervisors, who were elected to make the decision.

We think that moment two years ago was an embarrassment to Prince Edward County and should not be allowed to happen again.

There are ways around relying on chance when making a leadership decision that will set the pace of an elected body for the next two years — two of which should be explored by supervisors.

One option is to create a ninth at-large seat, something this newspaper has advocated in the past, creating an odd-numbered board that would be less prone — but not immune — to deadlock.

Localities have also appointed a designated tiebreaker, which would be less effective than a ninth board member but much better than resorting to a coin to decide.

There is a big difference, though, in January 2014 to January 2016. The new board will have two different members, which could eliminate the use of pocket change in decision making.

It’s our hope that, come Jan. 12, supervisors won’t have to resort to the flip of a coin in selecting a new board chairman or vice chairman but rather decide themselves.