Appointing individuals to serve an interim legislative term is a recurrent issue in the United States. If public officials are truly committed to protecting the voters' right to choose their own representative, they will commit to appoint individuals who pledge to serve for a limited term.
With Harriet Drummond's recent election to the State House, the Anchorage Assembly has a vacancy until the April 2013 election. I applied for this interim period of public service--three months--and pledged that I will not run for election in April. With my experience in municipal government, both as Assembly representative for West Anchorage and as acting mayor, I know how to effectively represent West Anchorage for the interim period. Friends and neighbors may ask why anyone would offer to serve for such a short period. The answer is simple: The public deserves a fair election and each candidate in April should have an equal opportunity with the voters.
Historically, "interim" Assembly appointments have a decided advantage in the next election: the interim appointee has won all but one election to our Assembly. When the Assembly appoints someone to interim service who will appear on the ballot, the majority of the Assembly is trying to influence decisions in the ballot box.
Our best teachers often ask: "Is it fair and beneficial to all concerned?"
Appointing an experienced public servant for three months on the Anchorage Assembly will be fair to West Anchorage because they will have a representative who already understands the community issues. Making a limited-term appointment will be fair to the candidates in the April election because they will compete for the seat on a level playing field. And appointing a person who pledges to serve for the interim term will be beneficial to the voters because they can choose their next representative without influence from the Assembly.
Because I trust the voters to make the right choice, I welcome the opportunity to serve our community and proudly commit to serve until the voters make their choice in April.
Matt Claman is a former Anchorage assemblyman who served as acting mayor in 2009.