By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
No clear path on city governance
Placeholder Image

MONROE - Selecting a method to elect city aldermen hasn't been an easy process for Monroe Common Council members - and now one alderman is suggesting a referendum to let the people decide.

During Tuesday's Common Council meeting, Alderman Michael Boyce said he'll submit an amendment to a pending ordinance - calling for electing nine aldermen by ward - that would place an advisory referendum on the April ballot.

Boyce said if the council passes the ordinance with the amendment on Aug. 16, it would allow the regularly-scheduled elections of alderman in odd numbered wards in 2012, as well as providing another vote on the preference for electing aldermen in the future.

At issue is an at-large or by ward-based system for municipal elections.

"This will allow us to meet our state statutory obligations (of having an election process in place by September 3) ... and allow the voters to decide in April," he said.

"We really don't know what the voters want," he added.

The pending ordinance for nine ward aldermen does not make changes to the city's charter and needs only a simple majority vote to pass.

A public hearing is scheduled before the vote on Aug. 16.

Boyce revealed his plan after former city mayor Ron Marsh spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. He urged any alderman to request a public hearing on a past ordinance that had been scratched from the July 5 agenda. That ordinance - to adapt city-code wording to reflect at-large elections - was scheduled for a public hearing.

But when the charter ordinance to create at-large elections failed, the council voted unanimously to delay a vote and did not hold the public hearing. Hanson made the request for Marsh, asking Charles Koch - presiding over the council in the absence or Mayor Bill Ross - for the Aug. 16 agenda to reflect for the public hearing.

Procedural questions involving open meeting laws surrounded the request, according to City Attorney Rex Ewald.

However, Koch determined the council was premature in discussing the issue Tuesday, because aldermen still had an opportunity to raise the issue at the Aug. 16 public hearing on the pending ward election ordinance.

Aldermen Brooke Bauman and Alderman Reid Stangel expressed early support for Boyce's idea of a referendum, while Alderman Jan Lefevre said an advisory referendum would cost taxpayers extra money and would not bind the council to the voters' decision anyway. Marsh said the Boyce amendment does not address his concern that about 600 voters would miss their turn to vote in the 2012 election, due to redistricting of the city this summer.