Thursday, May 14, 2020

Ward voting may be on November ballot in Wayne

Members of the Wayne City Council are scheduled to discuss ballot language to eliminate or change the ward voting system during their May 19 meeting.
Discussion of the ward voting system was discussed at length during the May 5 electronic meeting of the council members. The current six-ward system, established by a 68-percent majority vote of the public in 2014, allows one city council member from each ward.  The original intent of the ballot proposal was to have only the members of each ward vote for the council candidate from their area.
Due to some ballot language confusion, the city implemented the current system which allows voters throughout the city to vote on the council member in each of the six wards. There can, however, only be one council representative from each ward, forcing candidates from the same area of the city to compete for voters' favor. Elimination of the ward system would place the top vote getters from the entire ballot on the council, irrespective of their home addresses.
As discussion of the issue continued, Council woman Kelly Skiff said that while she had been a supporter of the ward system, she no longer felt it was in the best interest of the community. Several council members agreed with Mayor John Rhaesa who said residents have asked for the elimination of the ward system.
Councilman Jeremiah Webster said his concern was the limitation of council candidates from the same area of the city.
The council is expected to discuss elimination of the ward system, a change to having only voters from each ward vote on their council representative or some variation of the current system.
Should council members opt to place more than one proposal for a change in the system on the November ballot, the system receiving the most votes would then be implemented in the city, according to officials.