Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Form of government issue to go before voters

Petition has enough valid signatures for November vote

Express Staff Writer

Voters will decide in November whether Ketchum's form of government will change, now that an initiative petition's signatures supporting such a move have been certified as valid.

The Ketchum City Clerk's office notified Anne Corrock on Friday that the initiative petition she spearheaded to adopt the council-manager form of government has the required number of signatures and can be put to voters. In a letter to Corrock dated Aug. 5, City Treasurer/Clerk Sandra Cady said the required number of signatures was 213, and the petition contained 233 certified signatures.

"It is our belief that, if adopted, the council/manager plan will be a more effective and efficient government for Ketchum," Corrock said in a written statement to the Idaho Mountain Express. "The council/manager form of government combines the strong political leadership of elected officials with the strong managerial experience of an appointed manager.

"The council/manager government will better serve the needs of Ketchum by promoting effective management within a transparent, responsive and accountable structure that is fiscally responsible, promotes public involvement and encourages people to serve as elected officials."

Per Idaho code, the mayor must, through a proclamation, establish the date for the special election. The proclamation will be put on the City Council's Aug. 15 agenda.

Besides the form-of-government question, voters will at the same time be asked to choose all five council members, should the form of government change.

Ketchum's five sitting council members will have to run again this fall if they want to keep their seats; however, if the form of government question fails, that election will be null and void and an election on the two council seats up for election in November under the current form of government will be valid—that is, if that election is put to voters the same day.

"It is nearly impossible to write a ballot question where someone could make sense of that," said City Attorney Stephanie Bonney. "In my opinion, it's far too convoluted and confusing to put everything together."

The City Council will decide how to present the elections to voters. One option advocated by Bonney is to have the form of government question and five council seats on the November ballot, but not the two seats up for election in the current system.

If the form-of-government question fails and there is no election for the two seats, that election can be held in May. That way, Bonney said, voters know what they're voting on.

"My recommendation is just to protect the ballot question," she said. "If you combine them together, it's very open to (legal) challenge."

Corrock and her advocacy group, The Committee For Better Government, say those issues can be worked out, and a November vote is the right one as well as the one for which they are preparing.

"In the next few months leading up to the election, The Committee For Better Government will be working to bring all of the information to the voters necessary for them make an educated decision in November," Corrock said. "We will also be encouraging people to run for the council positions. Who the candidates will be is yet to be decided."

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