Petition circulating on City Board composition | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Petition circulating on City Board composition

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 7:37 AM

click to enlarge PUSHING GOVERNMENT CHANGE: Erma Hendrix.
  • PUSHING GOVERNMENT CHANGE: Erma Hendrix.

City Director Erma Hendrix
tells me that she and others are circulating petitions calling for an end to at-large representation on the City Board of Directors.

Hendrix's proposal to refer to voters an end of the three at-large Board seats — currently held by Gene Fortson, Dean Kumpuris and Joan Adcock — was defeated at a June 19 City Board meeting. Only Director Ken Richardson voted for it. Hendrix didn't vote. The other eight directors voted no. She immediately followed that vote with preparation of the petition, she said.

I'm not yet clear if this is a formal petition drive for an initiated ordinance. If so, according to my previous research, it would take about 7,800 signatures of registered voters to put an ordinance on the November ballot. There have been other discussions about broader changes in city government but no formal drive has emerged. Petitions must be filed 60 to 90 days before the November election.

Hendrix's proposal would leave the city with seven directors elected by ward. It doesn't address the city's currently blended mayor/administrator government form. I've long advocated a change to mayor-council government, with a board elected by wards. The current system was devised to keep the major business interests in control of city government. It has worked splendidly in that regard, not necessarily to the benefit of working stiffs.

UPDATE: Hendrix says the petitions are the form to place an initiated ordinance on the ballot. So we shall see.

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