Posts tagged “city charter

Ranked voting an unlikely path for College Station

By Mary Ann Powell, Deputy City Attorney

Whatever your political opinions are, we can all agree on one thing — voting is essential.

Various factions push an array of voting reforms to solve whatever problems they perceive in the way we elect our leaders. In parts of the country, a concept called ranked-choice voting has captured the imagination of some as a way to eliminate costly run-off elections.

In College Station, we went a year with a vacant city council seat because the COVID-19 pandemic forced delays in a run-off stemming from the November 2019 election.  

Ranked-choice voting is an election system that would apply when more than two candidates run for a public office. Voters rank their choices in order of preference. Suppose no candidate receives 50% of the votes. In that case, the candidate receiving the least “1” votes is eliminated, the second choice of the eliminated candidate’s voters is distributed among the remaining candidates, and so on.  

The process continues until a candidate receives a majority of the votes and is declared the winner.

Ranked-choice voting would eliminate run-off elections while ensuring the winning candidate reflects the preferences of a majority of voters, reducing the chances of a less-preferred candidate playing the role of a spoiler.

However, some experts say the system’s complexity may also confuse many voters and election administrators. They also argue that ranked-choice voting is manipulative and runs counter to the democratic process when voter confidence in the system is already low, at least in national elections. 

Could ranked-choice voting happen in College Station? It’s unlikely.

As enticing as some may find the concept — it’s been adopted in about 20 U.S. cities — it isn’t allowed under the Texas Constitution. Amending the constitution requires approval by two-thirds of each house of the legislature, then several state statutes would need to be overturned.

Finally, for College Station to adopt ranked-choice voting, residents would have to approve it in a city charter election. 

In other words, it can’t happen any time soon.

 


Powell

About the Blogger

Mary Ann Powell has been the city’s deputy city attorney since 2015. She has almost three decades of municipal legal experience, previously serving as city attorney in Sugar Land and Missouri City and as assistant city attorney in College Station and Missouri City. An Iowa native, Mary Ann received a bachelor of arts from St. Louis University in 1981 and a doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law School in 1986.


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch: (more…)


A closer look at the proposed city charter amendments

By Tanya Smith, City Secretary

If you plan to vote in the November election, you probably have a pretty good idea about how you are voting to fill national, state and local offices, but you may not have thoroughly examined the proposed changes to College Station’s City Charter.

In April, the city council asked the city attorney and city secretary to review the charter and propose changes. After discussion and debate, the council unanimously voted to add five propositions to the November ballot.

If you wait until you vote, you may find the ballot language a bit confusing, so it’s important to know what you are voting for – or against – before you head to your voting place.

Let’s take a closer look at each proposition and what it means to vote for or against it.

Proposition No. 1: Expansion of Council Terms

Shall Article III (The City Council), Section 17 (Number, Selection, Term) of the College Station City Charter be amended to provide for the regular election of the Mayor and City Council Members to be held in even-numbered years, for four (4) year term lengths for the Mayor and Council Members, and that the Mayor and Council Members be eligible to serve consecutive regular terms totaling no more than eight (8) years?

If you vote FOR the amendment, it means you want the terms of offices for the mayor and city council members to change from three to four-year terms. The term limit would also expand from six to eight years.

Voting for this proposition also allows city elections to remain in November, but elections would only be conducted in even-numbered years. If this proposition carries, the next general election for the council and mayor would still take place in November 2019 to keep the terms staggered.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, it means you want the mayor and council members to continue serving three-year terms with term limits of six consecutive years. You also want elections every November.

Proposition No. 2: City Attorney’s Residency

Shall Article III (The City Council), Section 29 (City Attorney) of the College Station City Charter be amended to permit the City Attorney to reside either within the City or within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City?

If you vote FOR the amendment, you want to allow the city attorney to live within the city limits or its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), which extends five miles past the city limits. If you vote AGAINST the amendment, you want to require the city attorney to live only within the city limits.

Proposition No. 3: Mandatory City Internal Auditor

Shall Article III (The City Council), Section 30 (City Internal Auditor) of the College Station City Charter be amended to make the appointment of the City Internal Auditor mandatory and to remove the reference to contracting for the duties of City Internal Auditor?

If you vote FOR the amendment, you want the appointment of an internal city auditor to be mandatory. The city has had an internal auditor for several years.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, you want the city council to have the authority to either appoint an internal auditor, hire an outside firm to fulfill those duties, or leave the position vacant.

Proposition No. 4: City Manager’s Residency

Shall Article IV (The City Manager), Section 40 (Qualifications) of the College Station City Charter be amended to permit the City Manager to reside either within the City or within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City?

If you vote FOR the amendment, you want to allow the city manager to live within the city limits or its ETJ, which extends five miles past the city limits.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, you want to require the city manager to live only within the city limits.

Proposition No. 5: Competitive Purchasing Notices

Shall Article VII (Finance Administration), Section 68 (Contracts for Improvements) of the College Station City Charter be amended to allow the City to determine by ordinance the methods to be used to satisfy notice requirements for competitive purchasing?

If you vote FOR the amendment, then you want language permitting the city to specify the method of notice for competitive bids and competitive proposals to be set by ordinance to the extent allowed by state law. This change would allow – but not require – the council to adopt an ordinance providing for alternative methods of publicizing notice of bids and proposals.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, then you want notice of the time and place that competitive bids are publicly opened to be published at least weekly for two consecutive weeks in the newspaper with no alternative method of public notice per state law.

Don’t Miss the Bottom of the Ballot!

When you vote, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the ballot to participate in your local elections. Since municipal elections are non-partisan, a straight-party vote will not include these critical items. You must vote for these issues separately.

Election Day is Nov. 6. Early voting starts Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 2.

For complete voter information, go to cstx.gov/elections or brazosvotes.org.

 


About the Blogger

A certified Texas municipal clerk, Tanya Smith is in her second year as College Station’s city secretary after serving 10 years as deputy city secretary. She was city secretary in Madisonville from 1998-2008.


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Possible City Charter Amendments: The council will have a workshop discussion about proposed city charter amendments that may be placed on the ballot in the November election.
  2. Historical Marker Presentations: The Historic Preservation Committee will present historical markers to the owners of six homes.
  3. Boyett Parking Removal:  As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider the removal of parking on the west side of Boyett Street on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The no parking zone would start 60 feet north of University Drive and extend another 160 feet.
  4. Northgate Passenger Loading Zone: Another consent agenda item is the creation of a passenger loading zone in the Northgate Promenade Parking Lot to help address pedestrian safety and traffic congestion issues. The loading zone would be in place from 9 p.m.-3 a.m.
  5. Fun for All Playground: The council will consider a $942,123 contract with CRT GC, Inc. for construction of a Fun for All Playground at Beachy Central Park. The all abilities facility would provide accessible and inclusive play for everyone and will be funded primarily by private donations and civic groups.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 or online. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (Dec. 13)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Dec. 13. It’s not the official minutes.

The workshop and regular meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. An archive of previous council meetings also is available on the website.

4:05 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started.

(more…)


Five things to watch at Monday’s city council meetings

The College Station City Council will meet Monday at city hall for its workshop (4 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings.  The workshop will break for executive session at 5 p.m. before returning to the agenda at 6 p.m.

Here are five items to watch on Monday:

  1. (more…)