Pay attention to everything on the ballot

In just over one week, area voters in several of our communities will be heading to the ballot to select their municipal representatives.

We’ve worked to provide some information on the various races involved on June 11, either in recent weeks or prior to the primary elections in May. There also have been campaign events, or candidate meet-and-greets, and hopefully residents have taken the time to attend these events or speak to those seeking to represent them.

In Weirton, all seven members of council and the office of mayor are on the ballot. That’s not the only thing Weirton voters will be asked to decide, though.

On today’s front page, we have an explanation of each of the 11 charter amendments proposed by council.

Most of the proposals are set to either modernize regulations — such as eliminating positions like city treasurer, auditor or health officer which no longer exist or haven’t been filled in years — while others seek to ensure the city is in compliance with state code — such as requiring those seeking office to have lived in the city for five years or pay $500 in taxes prior to being elected.

Others govern meeting requirements for members of council, or institute a review by the city attorney for city purchases. Then there is one which determines how the office hours for the city clerk are established.

While all 11 proposals will be going before the voters, there are three which received more objections during the process of going before council. Issues 4, 7 and 11 received multiple objections from residents.

We tried to provide insight on all 11 proposals, but those three have the most length to them. Issue 4, for example, discusses a change in the voting structure if city appointed officials are terminated. It would take the necessary voting requirements from a two-thirds majority (which currently would mean five members of council if all seven are in attendance) to a simple majority (or four of the seven).

Issue 7 would prohibit anyone elected to city council or mayor from holding another elected or appointed office on the city, county or state level of government. Currently, Weirton’s elected officials can hold state office, although this reportedly has happened only twice in 72 years.

Issue 11 would change the schedule for city elections so the next one, after this year, won’t take place until November 2024 and there would be only a general election. So, the primary election process would be tossed out, and whoever is elected this time would hold office for a little over five years.

Council feels this would help to save the city money, and possibly encourage more residents to vote.

It’s all a lot to take in, and these proposals are going to be on the ballot for all voters, just like the mayor’s race, so it is a good idea for everyone to make themselves familiar with the language included. As with any election, it is up to the voters to do their research and decide for themselves how they feel with these issues.

These proposals are just as important as voting for your representative on council. The city charter is the basis for Weirton’s municipal law. Changes to it should never be taken lightly. I know where I would stand on many of these, but as citizens of voters of Weirton, it is up to you to determine their fate.

If you feel these should be passed, vote “for the amendment.” If you do not agree with them, vote “against the amendment.”

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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