The 2012 election is also an important election on a local level as well. There are three city council seats up for election and a number of vital ballot propositions. For what it’s worth, here is how I voted for the proposed changes to the City Charter.
- YES – This proposition would make all future city elections coincide with national and state election in November rather than being held annually in May. Sadly under our current system, we only have about 5,000 people exercising their right and their duty to vote. By moving the election to November we should see these numbers drastically increase.- Shall Article II, Sections 1 & 3, Section 1, of the City Charter be amended to provide for biennial elections on a uniform election date in even numbered years and allow a member of Council to serve a four year term rather than a three year term, effective with the 2014 general election with adjustment of existing terms as necessary (not to exceed one year) to cause municipal elections to occur every two years on a uniform election date with the next municipal general election to occur in 2014 instead of every year as currently required for the terms of Mayor and Council members in the charter.
- YES – Proposition two would allow for council members or the mayor to serve only two terms in office. Depending on what other ballot propositions pass, we could end up with elected officials being able to serve 6 years, 8 years, 9 years or 12 years. Ideally, if Prop 1 and Prop 2 pass, elected officials will be able to serve two, four-year terms. – Shall Article I, Section 2, of the City Charter be amended to provide for more restrictive term limits such that no person may be a candidate for Mayor if serving a second consecutive mayoral term or be a candidate for Council if serving a second consecutive term. Currently no person may be a candidate for Mayor or Council if serving a third consecutive term.
- YES – Proposition 3 would require the mayor to become a voting member of City Council. As it stands now the mayor only votes to break ties which only happens if a council member is absent or abstains for some reason. To me this is a logical step to take after the citizens approved a city manager form of government. In the past, the mayor was the chief executive of the city and had direct interaction and authority over city staff. Since we changed forms of government, the city manager controls the day-to-day operation of the city with council providing oversight (mainly financial). As such, the best way for citizens to know what their mayor believes in is to have a voting record. – Shall Article II, Sections 1 & 13 of the city charter be amended to provide that the Mayor shall vote on any ordinance, resolution, action or question presented to Council, and be counted for the purposes of establishing a quorum? Currently the Mayor is prohibited from voting except in the case of a tie on City Council. (Which only occurs if someone is absent)
- NO – My understanding of Texas State Law is that a quorum is to be determined by a simple majority, which, in this case would be five (5). I don’t believe that we need to pass a charter amendment to perform simple math. – Shall Article II, Section 11 of the City Charter be amended to provide that a quorum of City Council for the transaction of business shall consist of 5 voting members of City Council. The current provision requires 5 councilpersons excluding the Mayor, and may be affected by other proposed amendments being submitted, including allowing the mayor to vote.
- YES – This is one of those lawyered up ballot propositions where yes means know and vice versa. I believe this was deliberately done by the city to try and confuse voters so that the red light camera cash cow would survive. Voting yes for this proposition means that you agree that we should not renew our contract with Redflex when it expires. Conversely, voting no means that you don’t agree and would like the city to renew its contract and keep red light cameras. – Shall Article IX of the City Charter be amended to include a new section 8, in order to prohibit the further renewal or deployment of photographic traffic enforcement systems on the City’s public rights of way when the contract with Redflex (Who is suing the City) expires pursuant to its terms? A vote for this proposition will prohibit red-light cameras a vote against this proposition will keep red-light cameras.
- NO – This proposition would require a super majority of council to consist of seven (7) members out of eight (8). Personally I would rather see this number be seventy five-percent which would be six (6) members of council. – Shall Article II, Section 22, Article 5, Section 4, and Article VII, Section 8 of the City Charter be amended to avoid any confusion in interpretation of the existing provisions by clarifying and adopting uniform language that a super majority consists of a four-fifths majority of the voting members of City Council, specifically including the Mayor, if given the right to vote. (This provision will make it so that 7 out of 8 members will be required for a super majority)
- NO – With a cursory read most people would probably agree with this proposition. After all, we expect our leaders to show up and do their job. However when you dig into the details of this proposition I fear it could be used as a devious tool to get rid of political rivals. For instance, let’s say a council member goes on vacation with their family over the summer and misses a workshop on Monday and a council meeting on Tuesday. At the council meeting, a special meeting is scheduled for Wednesday. Now said council member has missed three meetings and could be removed from council. I cannot support this ballot proposition in its current form. – Shall Article II, Section 7 of the City Charter be amended to provide that a council member remaining absent for three consecutive meetings of Council of any kind, including special meetings or workshops, shall be determined to have vacated office. The current provision provides for determination of vacancy upon a Council Member remaining absent for 3 consecutive meetings of City Council (Theoretically this would prevent a council person from taking a vacation if they missed a workshop the night before a council meeting, the subsequent council meeting and a special meeting called in the week after said meeting)