Residents in the towns of Skaneateles, Marcellus, Otisco, Spafford and part of Camillus who headed out of town last weekend for the Christmas break may be in for a surprise if they need to reach out to their county legislator.
In a span of five days, including the holiday, the Onondaga County Legislature's District 6 lost its representative for the past seven years and gained a new one — all with no apparent input from the public.
It all started on Christmas Eve. At 5:10 p.m. that day, a time when the public certainly would not be expecting any local government news announcements, new County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II's office put out a press release announcing a pair of new appointments. One of those hires was Michael Plochocki, who is becoming a deputy county attorney despite being in the middle of two-year term on the Legislature. The statement said Plochocki would be vacating his elected seat, but offered no additional details about the process for replacing him on that body.
But it turns out there wasn't much of a process at all. By Thursday, McMahon announced he had a replacement lined up. On Friday, he unveiled his choice: Skaneateles school board Vice President Julie Abbott-Kenan.
What took place this week was all fully within the power of the Onondaga County executive to do. But that doesn't make it right.
Choosing an existing county legislator to fill a high-level county government job may raise some eyebrows, but if Plochocki is the best person for the job, that's the right hire to make. Given his role as an elected official, however, the timing of the announcement — at a time when many people were getting ready for or even participating in Christmas Eve church services — was far from ideal.
We were more troubled, though, by the quick appointment of Plochocki's replacement. Abbott-Kenan could very well be the best choice, but there should have been a more open and deliberate process to make the appointment that involved the public. Put out a call for applications, and perhaps even hold an open forum for prospective candidates make their case for the job. It is, after all, an elected office.
But that seemed to get lost last week in the District 6 shuffle.
Should vacancies on the Legislature develop in the future, we urge McMahon to be more open to public input so he can be sure that the people he's appointing will have the backing of the residents they will be charged with representing.