Amendments to City Charter on November 3 Ballot
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Published: 01-Nov-2020

Oklahoma City set a special election on for proposed City Charter amendments. The vote on a total of nine propositions coincides with the November 3 statewide general election.

These charter amendments are primarily intended to modernize wording, address inconsistencies and resolve discrepancies with state law. Mayor David Holt named a Charter Review Committee which met from February through June, crafting the proposed amendments after considering a wide range of issues.

The committee members were: Ward 8 Councilman Mark K. Stoneciper and Sharon Voorhees were co-chairs. Joining them on the panel were Leslie Batchelor, Miriam Campos, Ward 2 Councilperson James Cooper, Stan Evans and Rachel Pappy.

Voters will consider the nine proposed amendments as separate propositions with a “yes” or “no” vote. Each requires a simple majority to pass. If approved, the governor must also review and sign voter-approved Charter amendments for them to formally become law.

Proposition 1 would make minor changes regarding elections for Mayor and Council. The February “primary” election would become the “general” election. April’s “general” election would be designated a “runoff” election. Council members and the mayor would assume office four weeks after the runoff, instead of one week. Required election notices and candidacy declarations would be changed to comply with current state law, which already supersedes the Charter’s outdated language.

Proposition 2 would change the description of requirements for those running for mayor or a seat on the Council. Required time to live in Oklahoma City before filing for office would shorten from 3 years to 1 year. Candidates would be required to be a registered city voter for the year preceding a formal declaration of candidacy. Candidates for Council seats would also be required to be registered to vote in the ward in which they are running for at least a year before a candidacy.

Proposition 3 would extend the time period from 15 days to 30 days to call a special election, or to appoint a temporary Mayor, if the office is vacant. It makes the time period consistent with the same requirement for vacant Council seats. Appointment of a temporary Mayor can only occur if the vacancy is in the last year of the term.

Proposition 4 would amend an outdated requirement for Council meetings to match the current practice of setting meeting schedules by ordinance. The Council currently meets every other Tuesday.

Proposition 5 would allow the Mayor or a Councilmember to provide information to the city manager about a City employee’s job performance. The information would be required to be based on direct personal knowledge, or a signed, written statement from a resident. The Charter prohibits the Mayor or Councilmembers from giving orders to City Manager subordinates, and from directing or requesting appointment or removal of a City employee. The narrow proposed change in Proposition 5 would explicitly provide a way for the Mayor and Councilmembers to provide positive or negative feedback without violating the Charter.

Proposition 6 would clarify who is in the City’s Division of Public Affairs, which is under the direct control of the City Council. The division would include the City Manager, municipal counselor, auditor, court judges and boards, commissions and committees creaed by the mayor and council.

Proposition 7 would change the term “Councilman” to “Councilmember” or “Councilor” where the Charter refers to Council representatives. This proposition would enact a new Section 11 directing the city clerk to work with the municipal counselor to make changes throughout the charter.

Proposition 8 would amend the section of the Charter granting powers to the City government, and reformat it into five subsections for easier reading. It would also add the word “welfare” to the list of powers for enacting and enforcing ordinances “to protect health, safety, welfare, life or property.”

Proposition 9 would re-word a section heading and more clearly state its apparent, original intent to prevent improper transactions related to certain businesses, and City franchise agreements. It would prevent City employees and officers from accepting things of value on terms unavailable to the general public from privately-owned transportation businesses and utilities. It would allow for franchises and contracts to be conditioned upon free service for City employees and officers while engaged in official duties.

All Oklahoma City voters who were registered by Oct. 9 are eligible to cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 special election. Voters registered at their current address are already eligible.

The ballot language and other documents are posted at okc.gov/Nov3.

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