By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Council sets public hearing for switch to 11 at-large seats
Placeholder Image
Editor's note: The following story has been updated to include the correct date for the public hearling.

MONROE - Members of the Monroe Common Council voted 6-2 Tuesday to increase the size of their governmental body to 11 total members and to eliminate the separation of aldermanic districts.

A public hearing to enact the legislation was scheduled for Sept. 6. Aldermen Chris Beer and Richard Thoman voted against the ordinance moving forward. The rest of the council, minus an absent Michael Boyce, voted in favor.

Under the proposed ordinance, the composition of the body will include the current nine serving on the council, plus two more. Without aldermanic districts, the requirement that a council member must be elected within their city ward would be eliminated.

Alderwoman Brooke Bauman, who suggested the change during a council meeting in early June, said there were a number of reasons to switch from aldermanic designations and increase the size of the council. She added that the other option the council was considering, a hybrid of nine ward-based aldermen plus two at-large seats, "doesn't solve part of the existing problem."

Alderman Reid Stangel favored the change.

"I don't think we have a lot of economic or racial diversity in this city," Stangel said. "We don't need separate representatives for each area like they do in cities like Milwaukee or Madison."

While Mayor Louis Armstrong said he did not think the council needed 11 people, he supported the at-large composition. He also supported a change because the city could expand committee sizes, which have been a complaint by a number of council members for their lack of members since the city was judicially ordered to reduce them. The order came after Monroe lost in a lawsuit brought forward by a former employee claiming the council broke the open meetings law.

Though Bauman moved the ordinance forward and was seconded by Marsh, public dissent was present earlier in the meeting when Ward 5 resident LaVern Isley stood up to tell the council he wanted aldermen designated to each ward.

"Every ward should have an alderman," Isley said. "It's essential."

He referenced a case in the past when his neighborhood had a problem with a resident involved with drugs and thought having an alderman in the area had helped resolve the problem. However, Bauman and other members of the council said that because of the size of Monroe, they not only deal with people outside of their representative ward but also make decisions to better the city as a whole.

The change would be enacted with approval of the legislation, though new representatives would not be put in place right away. Aldermen would be elected at large for a two-year term in the spring election before setting up a schedule of six council members being elected in the odd-numbered years and five during the even-numbered election years.