Quitters should payCivic groups and residents of Gangdong District, Seoul, are planning to file for compensation next week against the head of the district council and a city council member. The two public servants quit their jobs to run for National Assembly elections in April in the middle of their terms of office.
They are seeking compensation for the cost of holding by-elections for new leaders and the anticipated problems that they will likely suffer during the administrative vacuum.
Since 2002 Gangdong District has held elections for its council head every two years. Including this year, there have been four such by-elections.
At the end of last month, two provincial council members and two city council members from Ansan, Gyeonggi, faced lawsuits filed by residents seeking similar compensation claims.
The post for the head of the Gangdong district council will remain empty for six months, until a by-election is scheduled.
The election pledges cannot be implemented and an administrative vacuum is unavoidable.
It is estimated that 2 billion won ($2.06 million) is needed to re-elect the district head. If more city and district council members quit to run for the position of head of the district government, the cost of the by-election will mount, with tax payers picking up the bill. This situation will waste money earmarked for social welfare and local development.
When he gets elected, an official is making a promise with voters to see out his term. Unless he has a serious health condition or another unavoidable reason, he should fulfill his duty.
If he breaks the promise because he wants to get a better job, he is abdicating his responsibilities as a public servant. This is unethical and deserves severe criticism.
If he fails to keep a promise to his residents, how can the elected official possibly keep his promise with the nation as a lawmaker?
The jobs of local government head and local legislative council member must not be seen as a stopover on the way to a higher post as a lawmaker. Such a situation simply wastes time and money.
The regulations governing the term of an elected official in local government must be revised.
If an elected official quits in the middle of his term for dubious reasons, he should pay for any for any costs incurred.
To this end, we await the court’s ruling on the recent compensation cases with interest.