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City eyes at-large elections
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MONROE - The Monroe Common Council is taking steps to eliminate aldermanic designations in future elections, instead using an at-large election system.

The council asked City Attorney Rex Ewald to draft an ordinance that would also include 11 aldermen rather than the current eight representatives.

Council members had discussed the matter in 2011, but did not make a decision. Alderwoman Brooke Bauman brought the topic to discussion, saying she was previously against the idea but can now see the plan's merit. She said the at-large system would eliminate confusion by voters.

She added that city residents already call council members outside of their respective wards because of familiar relationships outside of city business, and that removing neighborhood restrictions could encourage interested citizens to run for office.

The change would mean no more ward choices on ballots. Instead, there would be 11 open seats for the council, with each seat going to the top 11 choices by voters.

Council members also discussed how the council could be split partially as an at-large body while also having half or the majority of aldermen remain representatives of their geographical designation. The details of the system have yet to be worked out through the draft of the ordinance, but council members agreed the total number of aldermen should be 11.

Alderman Charles Koch said he appreciated the idea.

"The more people involved, the more knowledge you can put together and have more discussion," Koch said.

Alderman Tom Miller agreed, and echoed the sentiment about having a number of opinions at committee meetings. Both Koch and Miller serve on the Board of Public Works, which was recently cut down to three members. Koch has said that he does not believe the large-scale decisions regarding public works should be decided by two or three people.

Because an 11-person council would have a majority of six voting members, the board would be able to have five committee members while not violating the open meeting law requirement, which states that less than a majority of the full council can make decisions while in committee, otherwise the decision would be considered made by the council as a whole.

Council members will vote to change over to an at-large system in an upcoming meeting after Ewald drafts the ordinance.