Ultimately, though, we should not be shocked that Mr. Young, when given the power to influence the process, used it. Few if any politicians in his place would do otherwise. The only answer to concerns about back-room politicking in the selection of nominees to fill vacancies on the council is to hold special elections. Council members have heard proposals for them before, most notably after the uproar caused by Mr. Welch's selection, and they have rejected the idea as expensive and impractical. Holding them would require schools and other polling places to be closed for a day, but only in one district, which could cause confusion. How much a special election would cost isn't totally certain, though when the idea last came up, the city's election chief estimated it at $91,000 for a single council district. Those are drawbacks, but they are not insurmountable. Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1996 authorizing but not requiring charter counties to fill county council (or, in Baltimore's case, City Council) seats through special elections; both Montgomery and Prince George's counties have done so twice. A constitutional amendment doing authorizing special elections for county executives or Baltimore mayor is on the ballot this fall.