With the resignation of Mill Valley Councilmember Jessica Jackson, who is leaving her term two years early to take a new job in Washington D.C., the City Council suddenly has an opening to fill.
So what is the best process for filling this vacancy? The most appropriate approach seems clear – turn to the most recent election and respect the democratic process by selecting the one who came closest to winning. In this case, that’s Kirk Knauer, who ran an energetic campaign for the Mill Valley City Council in 2015.
The Marin IJ endorsed Knauer during the 2015 race, stating that of five candidates vying for three seats, he “appears to be the strongest on pension reform and the need to continue to work toward cost-saving changes.”
Knauer also pulled in a long list of endorsements, including 12 former Mill Valley mayors and numerous civic leaders. He won 1,103 votes that November, trailing the third-place winner by only 165 votes.
Knauer has served on several city advisory groups, and regularly attends City Council meetings and keeps up with its agenda, remaining active in civic life while continuing his career in education management. He and his wife moved to the city in 1998, where they raised their three children, and he expresses deep commitment to the civic health of the community.
It’s not a new idea to appoint a runner-up to an unanticipated opening on an elected body. One council candidate in San Anselmo is now running to make that standard practice, after he deeply objected to the town council, there, in July appointing a person to the council who never earned a single vote.
This approach respects the votes and endorsements of the many who did support a candidate who came close to winning a seat. And then letting voters decide again when the partial term is complete.
In the meantime, a person who is clearly qualified, and has actively demonstrated their commitment to the position, can hit the ground running.