One Step in the Right Direction
At the October 30th, 2017 meeting of the Newark City Council Rules Committee, Chairman Mike Mangus and members Jonathan Lang as well as Doug Marmie unanimously voted in favor of moving Ordinance No. 17-56 (authored by Carol Floyd) to the full City Council for a vote at the November 20th meeting and it reads as follows: "APPOINTING A CHARTER REVIEW STUDY GROUP PURSUANT TO CHARTER ARTICLE 11.05 FOR THE LIMITED PURPOSE OF CONSIDERING MODIFICATIONS TO THE CURRENT FORM OF CITY GOVERNMENT".
What does this mean? Well, this particular measure is designed to officially create a study group - as guided by our City Charter - to research the potential benefits and setbacks which may occur if we were to adopt a nonpartisan electoral system. If this passes the full council on the 20th, then it will be a significant victory in the march towards eradicating the distractive noise created by overt partisanship in our local politics. Over the years, charter review commissions (including the one I served on earlier this year) have briefly debated this matter only to conclude that they didn't have enough time to research it before passing it on to the people for their consideration.
When the Charter Review Commission of 2012 met they rejected nonpartisan elections but expressed hope for further study. However, Council did not take up the challenge at the time and it was buried until the Commission was convened with five new members this year. I was dead set on advocating for nonpartisan elections to be presented before the voters of Newark for an up or down vote, but the other four members were not comfortable doing so in lieu of adequate time to explore the consequences of such a radical change. In the end, since we only had about a month and a half to meet before our deadline, the issue failed to gain our collective support, but we resolved that Council should absolutely create a Study Group for the purpose of conducting a thorough study on the impact that this proposed change would have on our city. I promised at the time - with the encouragement of all my colleagues - to not let Council forget and to promote a Study Group.
As you may have noticed by following this blog over the course of the summer, I kept my word and never relented in pushing for Council to act. Now, we have taken a major step in the right direction. I must note the pride I have in the fact that it passed out of committee with bipartisan support, and I hope that it will pass the full council in like fashion.
Onward we go. One more week until the election. Stay tuned.