The following article was in the September 7, 2016 issue of The Monroe Times on the front page written by Bridget Cooke titled “Monroe Goes to At-Large Council” and I quote:
|9/7/2016 12:20:00 AM
“Monroe goes to at-large city council”
MONROE – Despite originally pushing to change to an 11-person, at-large government body, Monroe Common Council members voted 4-3 in favor of keeping the group at nine members. Most approved the change to an at-large system.
On Tuesday, Aldermen Chris Beer, Reid Stangel, Richard Thoman and Michael Boyce voted to have nine members on the council. Fellow members Ron Marsh, Tom Miller and Brooke Bauman lost out in their vote in favor of 11 total. Aldermen Jeff Newcomer and Charles Koch were absent from the meeting.
Voting to move to an at-large system was supported by all except Thoman.
The original ordinance draft called for 11 at-large council members, but discussion during the public hearing by aldermen led to a change in the language.
During the public hearing, a handful of residents spoke out against the change to an at-large system. Ward 5 resident LaVern Isely, who has been a vocal opponent of the change, stood during the hearing to proclaim the idea as “taxation without representation.”
“I feel each ward should have an alderperson,” Isely said. “The people I talked to didn’t like the idea. They think it’s a bad idea too.”
Monroe resident Randy Blumer stood to say he agreed with Isely, and would prefer to have a representative in each ward.
But as a proponent of the change, Monroe resident Mary Soddy said she could see merit in the switch to an at-large system and understood why the council was considering a shift.
“Monroe is a small city,” Soddy said. “Everything that happens in one part of the city affects all of the city.”
Soddy also supported the change to 11 members, and expressed disapproval at the idea of the council shrinking to a smaller number if the city population continued to dwindle.
“We need to make it easier for more qualified people to run, not fewer,” Soddy said.
Beer said she had been contacted by a number of people within, and outside of, her ward who were against the change to an at-large system, while Bauman said her experience was the opposite. Bauman added that one of the key reasons the council was debating this change is that people generally reach out to who they know rather than their ward representative, a premise that was reinforced through this example.
The change to an at-large system means that current council members will serve out their remaining terms before entering re-election as one of the nine members to possibly be elected to office rather than designated to a ward number.
The at-large aldermen will be elected for two-year terms in the annual spring election. Four aldermen will be elected in the odd-numbered years, and five aldermen will be voted on in the even-numbered years. None of the candidates will be associated with a ward any longer.
The passage of the ordinance eliminated aldermanic districts from city code.”
(IN THE MONROE TIMES, THEY HAD IN THE AGENDA ON THE DATES OF AUGUST 31, SEPTEMBER 1, AND SEPTEMBER 2, NOTHING ABOUT THE UPCOMING MONROE CITY COUNCIL MEETING. ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, THE MONROE TIMES DID PUBLISH IN THE AGENDA THAT THERE WAS A CITY COUNCIL MEETING ON SEPTEMBER 6 BUT NOTHING ABOUT THE PUBLIC HEARING CONCERNING THE COUNCIL AT-LARGE ISSUE. WHEN I CALLED CITY CLERK, CAROL STAMM, AND ASKED HER WHY THERE WASN’T ANYTHING IN THE NEWSPAPER OR ON THE RADIO, SHE TOLD ME “I SEND THEM THE PROPER INFORMATION BUT I CAN’T MAKE THEM PUT IT IN.” AFTER WE LOOKED UP THE AGENDA ON THE MONROE CITY COUNCIL WEB SITE, IT ONLY ALLOWED FIVE MINUTES FOR DISCUSSION ON THE COUNCIL AT-LARGE ISSUE, WE QUESTIONED CAROL ABOUT IT AND SHE SAID THAT THEY WOULD WAIVE IT AND WE WOULD GET TIME TO SPEAK. AT THE MEETING ON THE NIGHT OF TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, AFTER GIVING MY NAME AND I LIVE IN WARD 5, I ASKED MAYOR ARMSTRONG HOW LONG A TIME COULD I SPEAK, HE SAID THREE MINUTES.
NOW, AS FOR THE RADIO STATION, WHICH NEVER COVERED ANYTHING UNTIL APPROXIMATELY LATE TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, AFTER WE CALLED HIM, HE LOOKED IT UP AND CALLED US BACK. HE DID ACKNOWLEDGE HE HAD RECEIVED THE INFORMATION FROM THE CITY. I UNDERSTAND THEY DID HAVE SOMETHING ON THE RADIO IN LATE AFTERNOON. I COMMENTED TO HIM THAT I WISHED THE RADIO STATION COVERED THE COUNCIL MEETINGS LIKE THEY USED TO IN 2011 AND US VOTERS WOULD BE MUCH BETTER INFORMED, PARTICULARLY IN 2011 WHEN THIS COUNCIL AT-LARGE ISSUE WAS BROUGHT UP AND WE DEFEATED IT AT THAT TIME. THIS TIME, 95% OR MORE OF THE PEOPLE I TALKED TO, NEVER KNEW THE MEETING WAS TAKING PLACE AND WHAT IT MEANT.
LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran