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EDITORIAL: City shouldn’t approve contracts with elected officials

by By The Camden News Editorial Board | January 21, 2020 at 3:30 p.m.

— By The Camden News

Editorial Board

The most recent Camden city council meeting raised several red flags we believe warrant further discussion.

The City of Camden should not approve contracts with elected city officials, regardless of who that individual is or what company they run/services they provide. The appearance of a conflict of interest, whether one actually exists, outweighs any potential benefits for the city. Even the extra hurdle of having the contract approved by the city council isn’t enough to convince us that such a contract is worth it. Simply, this commingling of tax dollars and city officials raises eyebrows and undermines community

trust in the city.

This is unfortunate for individuals who are elected to serve the city and run businesses that otherwise would be excellent options for city contracts, but that’s a right a politician gives up in return for the privilege of serving on the city council, or in any locally elected position. It’s not fair, but when it comes to public tax dollars, it’s vitally important to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

The other concern raised at the meeting concerned an alderman recommending his niece to serve on a local commission. That issue is less straightforward — in small communities, it seems impractical to automatically disqualify a potential candidate for a city board or commission simply because they’re related to an elected official. But, again, the appearance of impropriety is concerning. If it can be avoided, elected officials shouldn’t nominate relatives for city boards and commissions. Again, it’s not fair, but when it comes to public tax dollars and public power, the highest standards need to apply. Anything less, again, undermines public

confidence.

The Camden News editorial board is comprised of general manager Robyn Yarbro and managing editor Caleb Slinkard. To contact the editorial board, email us at [email protected]

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