Two City Charter amendment issues, submitted by Council, round out this municipal election ballot.
Issue 1A would change the makeup of the nine-member City Council. Effective in 2013, instead of five at-large members and four district representatives, the group would include six district reps and only three at-larges.
We fully agree with the concept of adding districts, but it was obvious when Council considered the issue that one detail had been overlooked. In this election, we're choosing five at-large Council members, all of whom thought they were signing up to run for a four-year term. But that wouldn't work with only three at-large positions as of 2013.
The answer, included within the 228-word ballot description, is that the top three vote-getters would serve four years, while those finishing fourth and fifth would get just two years.
This isn't fair, because it wouldn't give those two sitting Councilors enough time to prove themselves, or any guarantee of where they might fall in a realignment of districts. There's also the matter of changing the rules after people went to the trouble of running for office, enduring a campaign and actually winning Council seats.
We would fully support a future proposal to create more districts — even eight with just one at-large would be fine with us — but it would have to be structured to allow anyone elected to serve the full term they sought at the start. That would mean waiting until 2013, with the issue to take effect in 2015.
Issue 1B clarifies some language in the strong-mayor proposal that was approved last November. This clarification states: "The Mayor shall have the right to attend and be heard at any meeting of Council and may recommend to the Council for adoption such measures as the Mayor may deem necessary or expedient."
As it stands now, the strong mayor would not be compelled to attend City Council meetings, and actually would not be a voting Council member as in the past. A Council president would run the meetings. With this adjustment, the mayor still would not have a vote, but would be able to attend and participate.
The leading mayoral candidates agree, and we concur, that the strong mayor needs to have as positive a working relationship as possible with the new Council, and vice versa. This encourages more public interaction, and should give the public more chances to address both at the same time.