The city’s Charter Review Commission has completed its initial review of the 129-section, 25-article, 30-page document.
Articles 20 through 25 were considered at the 90-minute meeting last Thursday.
Section 118, “Determination of Successful Candidates,” drew the most discussion. At issue was whether City Council candidates from the city’s four wards needed to garner more than 50 percent of the votes cast in an election in order to win. If none of the candidates received more than 50 percent, then a runoff election should take place, at least one member said.
City attorney Darren Shulman said that a runoff election could be expensive if it were the only race being voted on. However, a commission member said, “It’s expensive to run a city, but running it right is more important than what it costs.”
The matter was brought up because, at one time, there were six candidates vying for a single ward seat.
The commission has also discussed how many City Council members should be from the wards and how many are at-large. Council has a member from each of the four wards, and three are at-large. The mayor is currently chosen from the at-large candidates. Commission members said there is a more personal relationship with the council people who represent a specific ward than those who are at-large.
Since a consensus could not be reached, it was recommended that the number of votes and council composition be considered for future study by City Council.
Another section, number 109, “Planning Commission Assistants and Employees,” Shulman said should be crossed out. Chair Mary Jane Santos said when she was on the planning commission, it never appointed an employee.
Of the other sections, many of the recommended changes were minor, such as removing “paper copies only,” the word “generally,” and some dates.
“So we have done what we were asked to do, which was go through the whole charter,” Santos said. “It is now up to Darren to come back with our recommendations, and we will then vote on those.”
“I will write a cover letter reporting the changes for council,” Shulman said. “We’ll make sure we’re cool with the changes.”
The charter serves as the city’s governing document. It was originally adopted in the 1951 general election. Every eight years, a volunteer commission examines the document, and if any changes are recommended, the public votes on whether to approve the changes.
The next charter review meeting is scheduled for June 9. The report needs to be completed by July 5, and reported to City Council by July 11.