You'll Decide, Again

Lenoir City Council voted Monday night on first reading to add two charter amendments to the ballot in the August election. The amendments will still require a second reading and approval by council to make it official. That meeting will be on the 26th.

One charter change council is recommending will be to change the term of the city mayor from two years to four years. The last time this change was attempted was back in 2004 by then Mayor Matt Brookshire. The charter change failed by only ten votes. The vote was 925 against, 915 in favor.

The other charter change being proposed will be to change the position of Treasurer/Recorder from elected by the people to appointed by the council. The last time that change was attempted was again under the Brookshire administration back in 2008. The charter change was overwhelming defeated by the voters by an 80% margin, 727 to 178.

A third charter change had been discussed but failed to gain the support of the council. That change would have allowed non-resident, city property owners to vote in city elections. It's not really surprising this charter change will not make it to the ballot. It's well known that most small governments rarely want to expand the voter base.

Both proposed charter amendments pose both pros and cons. A two year mayor's term puts a lot of pressure on an incumbent mayor to be in campaign mode almost constantly. Some would say that a four year term would allow the mayor more flexibility to get things accomplished. On the other hand, if the city winds up with a dud mayor, they would only have to tolerate it for two years.

Elected vs appointed treasure/recorder is the same way. The elected treasurer/recorder is independent of the control of the council and mayor but there are no assurances that a person elected to fill the position would have qualifications for the job. On the other hand, some would say that by being an appointed position, council could be sure to fill the position with a qualified person. However, an appointed treasurer/recorder would be subjected to the will and control of the council and mayor.

But I was thinking. If the better idea is to appoint a position to assure a qualified person is chosen could not that same logic be applied to the office of mayor? Maybe the council would be better qualified to appoint the mayor rather than the people electing the mayor. Or maybe an elected mayor would be more qualified to appoint council members than leaving it up to the voters.

I don't know, just things running through my head.

Anyway, it's a good while till the August election. Later on we will discuss in detail all the pros and cons of both proposed charter changes.