Mayor Jim Gray soon will appoint someone to fill out the term of 12th District Councilman Ed Lane, who died Aug. 2. That person should be Gloria Martin, who represented the district for more than a decade, from 1994 to 2005.
Her extensive experience representing the district and her deep knowledge of city government — she served on the Board of Adjustment and in other capacities — mean she will be able to make a meaningful contribution from day one. But perhaps the strongest argument in her favor is that she has no plans to run for the seat next year.
The other people known to have expressed interest — former 1st District council member Andrea James, who now lives in the 12th District; Kathy Plomin, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat in 2010, and businessman Russ Hensley — have acknowledged they're interested in running for the seat. Hensley has a website urging people to contact Gray on his behalf and stating his plan to run next year.
If a likely candidate is appointed, that person would have 14 months as an incumbent before the November 2016 election.
It's not a guaranteed win, but it's a big advantage and provides a temptation to use the seat as a platform for gaining public attention rather than knuckling down to the work at hand.
Martin also would bring experience and deep knowledge of city government to a council that can use both qualities. This is a very young — in terms of council service — group. Five of the 11 members are in their first terms, two in their second. Steve Kay is in his first term leading the council as vice mayor.
This mix has resulted in a rough-around-the-edges character in many council deliberations as members climb the steep learning curve. Martin's experience, combined with the absence of political ambition, would be a huge asset on the council at this critical time.