AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo voters have three propositions to decide on when they cast their ballots, two of which include potential changes to the way the City of Amarillo conducts business.
On the November ballot, Proposition B would change the term lengths for the Amarillo mayor and city council members from two to four years and begin staggered terms. Proposition C would reduce the number of required city council meetings each year.
Those propositions were recommended by the Charter Review Committee, an advisory board made of concerned citizens.
To Amend Article V, Section 2 of the Amarillo City Charter to provide for a 4-year term of office for the mayor and each city councilmember with those terms being staggered as provided by ordinance and confirming amendments as required by state law.City of Amarillo – Proposition B
To Amend Article V, Section 12(a) of the Amarillo City Charter to provide for the mayor and councilmembers to meet to qualify for office on the day of the election canvass and thereafter meet not less than twenty-four times per calendar year.City of Amarillo – Proposition C
Amarillo City Council Member for Place Three Eddy Sauer said in his experience, the first year on the city council is about getting comfortable in the role and learning how to handle city business.
“Whenever I was voted into office, along with the other four, our number one priority, at that point in time, was just getting comfortable with what we had all signed on to do,” Sauer said, “and it was like drinking from a firehose.”
According to Sauer, once the second year rolls around, council members are just starting to understand the job when the next election cycle starts.
Committee member Roy Bara said on August 20 for Politics Today, staggered elections would bring continuity to the city council.
“Having staggered elections, to me, would bring stability from council to council, experience on policymaking, budgets, city budgets, all the work that needs to be done,” Bara said.
If approved by voters, Proposition B would not affect the terms of our current city council but would be implemented in May at the next city election.
Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said in August, “If the voters approve this in November, then the city council has to pass an ordinance about the terms for the May election and there will be lots of conversation, and it will be very clear to all the voters who’s running for a two-year term and who’s running for a four-year term.”
The current city charter requires weekly city council meetings but if Proposition C passes, that would be reduced to 24 times a year.
Sauer said this would be more efficient as half of their meetings essentially serve as work sessions.
“The reality is our action items are on typically the second and fourth Tuesday,” Sauer said.
The Amarillo League of Women Voters has a non-partisan voter guide containing pros and cons for Props B and C.
On Proposition B, the Amarillo LWV said the cons include:
- Two-year terms allow voters to hold officials accountable for their performance in office.
- Offices such as U.S. Representative and Texas State Representative have two-year terms of office, to allow for a more rapid introduction of new ideas.
- The proposition does not specify how terms will be staggered, moving that decision to a future city ordinance.
On Propisiton C, they say the cons include:
- Reducing the number of required meetings per year will reduce opportunities for residents to bring issues to the council.
- The proposition does not guarantee that meetings will be held every other week, so residents will find it harder to plan to attend a meeting.
- Reducing the number of meetings could slow the city’s ability to respond to emerging issues, putting the city at a disadvantage.
The LWV also published a list of pros for both propositions, many of which were echoed by Sauer and Bara. You can find those here.
Bara said the committee proposed those changes based on other Texas cities close to the size of Amarillo.
For more voter information, click here.
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