Public should know candidates for Durant City Manager — they should not be hidden: Opinion

A vote is scheduled to be taken Monday to determine if the identities of the candidates for the Durant city manager position should be withheld from the public. 

Under the Oklahoma statute, a privacy option is available for management jobs.  The position specifics must be made publicly known, but the unhired candidates may remain undisclosed.

The Oklahoma City Managers Association has requested this vote via a resolution - referencing a 2008 Association document, which states: "Applicants for vacant management positions be publicly disclosed is not required by law, and said disclosure will discourage good and qualified candidates from applying for vacant positions. The interest of the public is protected in the selection process by the involvement of an elected body that represents the interest of the municipality and the public in the selection process."

Also, the document says: "The City Managers Association of Oklahoma recommends that all municipalities in Oklahoma respect the interest of applicants for management positions, create processes that encourage the greatest number of qualified candidates, and acknowledge the significance of confidentiality in the application and interview process for management positions."

While the intent of candidate privacy has particular merit, some residents have expressed concern over a potential transparency issue, if the vote does permit withholding of candidate identities.

"I want to know who is [going] to be approving budgets and other important operations duties for [the] city of Durant. I feel that an informal open vetting of these candidates and figuring out who is the most qualified can be of benefit to the finances and future of our town," said a resident whose name was withheld by request.

One of the primary purposes of a city council is to make decisions on behalf of its residents. As elected and sometimes, appointed officials, the council members must carefully weigh each presented topic, to come with a solution that will best serve its constituents.

We trust that the Durant city council will make the best decision, but we believe allowing the names to be public serves the interest of the city and its citizens best.