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Editorial: Both parties play the game

Published: Friday, July 11, 2014 11:30 a.m. CDT

A couple of weeks ago, Republican State Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch, announced that she would resign her post, a half year before her term expires. She told the Daily Herald that she was leaving early because her son planned to get married in September.

Under state law, because she is a Republican, her party gets to select her successor for the remainder of her term.

In March, Sheri Jesiel, a church business manager, ran unopposed in the GOP primary, so she seems to be the Republicans' logical choice to replace Osmond.

Democratic candidate Loren Karner, though, accused the Republicans of a "backroom deal" to provide his opponent a taxpayer-funded job to allow her to campaign full time.

He's got a point. To be fair, though, both parties play this game. Too often, state lawmakers resign before their terms are up. That way, party leaders can choose replacements who will have the powers of incumbency going into an election. But why should a few political insiders get to secretly choose the person who represents more than 100,000 people? Sure seems unfair.

Yes, holding a special election would be too expensive. But there are realistic ways to open the process. State law could require party leaders hold a public meeting, in which applicants must make their cases and answer questions from the public. The law could require party leaders vote in public.

In Lake County, we encourage Republicans to cast aside tradition and involve the public. Openness would be a good way to set themselves apart from the Democrats.

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