Napa City Councilperson Juliana Inman retires to Salem, Oregon and her city council colleagues have decided to fill her vacancy via an appointment. Only former Napa City Councilmembers with no plans to run in 2018 are eligible for appointment thereby excluding the possibility for the appointment of a political outsider.

Political outsiders have been trending in Napa County's political zeitgeist since 2005 and restricting appointment to former Napa City Councilmembers is out of step with this emerging trend.

Proponents of this approach seek to appoint a caretaker for the position, already equipped with municipal knowledge and experience, to cultivate government continuity through the 2018 election. However, opponents argue that this also functions to further solidify the local political status quo.

James Hinton, a specter of Harry Martin, haunts the halls of power in Napa. In Martinian fashion, Hinton is vigilant and, like Harry, relentlessly advocates for Napa's working-class and lumpenproletariat, those deemed deplorable by Napa's corporate liberal Democrat political elite. A grassroots "small-D" democrat, Hinton's general heuristic is to support democratic elections to fill vacancies. Hinton, recently appointed to the Napa County Green Party County Council, is a vocal opponent of the Napa City Council's restrictive appointment policy.

Opening up the appointment process to everyone eligible to hold office provides more people, such as blue-collar and marginalized folk, an opportunity to apply to govern.

Virtue signaling aside, Napa Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza is the only person of color eligible to apply for Napa's vacant city council seat and he's teleologically aimed towards higher political ambitions. Downtown Napa is undergoing major gentrification, a neoliberal process under late-capitalism supported by Napa's political status quo, and blue-collar and working-poor people will be "on the menu" if they are "not at the table."

Now is not the time to exclude marginalized voices who challenge the political status quo.

Challengers to the local political status quo, such as Geoff Ellsworth, St. Helena City Council; Doris Gentry, Napa City Council; and Jennifer Baker, Napa Valley College Board of Trustees (NVC BOT) Area One, won several electoral victories in 2016.

In 2015, Gabriel Sanchez was the fourth consecutive registered Green elected Student Trustee on the NVC BOT; one year prior, Amy Martenson beat a longtime incumbent on the NVC BOT with deep ties to the local Democratic Party.

Also in 2014, James Hinton won in California's top-two primary election system and went toe-to-toe with Congressperson Mike Thompson in the general election.

In 2012, anti-big development candidate Carl Sherrill won a seat on the Calistoga City Council subsequent to an abrupt resignation shortly after being sworn into office. Fellow political outsider and city council candidate Charlotte Williams was one vote away from being appointed to fill former Councilperson Sherrill's vacancy.

And, in 2005, three-term Napa City Councilperson Harry Martin, the founder and owner of the Napa Sentinel, announced mid-year that he re-registered with the Green Party.

The Napa City Council will fill the vacancy and conduct an appointment process in a manner consistent with their values and preferences. The citizenry will advocate for their interests within the process and the council will attempt to achieve synthesis. Such is the material dialectical conflict between the government and her citizenry intrinsic to all legislative processes and even at the municipal level.

The rest is turtles all the way down.

Alex Shantz

St. Helena

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