At their meeting Sept. 9, members of the commission looked over the applications of four finalists. A total of 12 Contra Costa County residents expressed an interest in filling the role, as an alternate to commission member Martin McNair.
LAFCO is a seven-member board charged with regulatory and planning duties throughout the county. The commission membership is made up of individuals from the Board of Supervisors, city councils, special districts and from the community at large.
Each of these membership categories also has an appointed representative to serve as an alternate if the member is unable to attend. Alternates are able to attend meetings and participate in the discussion of agenda items, but unless they are filling in for their board member they are unable to vote.
Burke was unable to attend the Sept. 9 meeting due to a family emergency that took her out of town. However, she provided the commission with a statement regarding her interest in LAFCO and her reasons for seeking out the position.
"As currently constituted, Contra Costa LAFCO does not have a resident of South County as a member or alternate on the Commission and has not had one for years," she stated. "I believe I would bring an additional point of view to LAFCO to represent a currently under-represented area of the county."
A subcommittee went through the applications and narrowed it down to four. The subcommittee recommended the full commission choose Burke both for the strong qualities she would bring to the role but also for representation of the southern end of the county.
District 3 Supervisor Mary N. Piepho, herself an alternate on the commission, endorsed the choice of Burke for the position.
"It's obvious we have a wealth of talented individuals," Piepho said. "I think it's important to recognize a geographic balance. We are missing a representative for the southern portion of the county. Sharon's nomination would fill that gap."
Commissioners moved to pass the recommendation and were ready to vote when Commissioner Helen Allen intervened.
"At this time while I hear there is a motion to support, I have my own ideas," she offered.
Allen said she felt she was not given enough information on the candidates and requested that in future discussions they be given all of the applications. She then moved that rather than simply approve Burke, the commission vote on the finalists and let the candidate with the most votes become the alternate.
When no other commissioners seconded Allen's amendment it died and the commission voted 6-1 in favor of Burke.
A statement released by LAFCO read: "Ms. Burke has demonstrated a commitment to the community through her many years of involvement in community organizations."
Officials say Burke will be sworn in at the Oct. 14 meeting. Her term expires May 2012.
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