Understanding proposed amendments to the City Charter

Understanding proposed amendments to the City Charter

COLUMBUS, GA - While the lines for early voting are at times out the door, some voters in Columbus are walking away confused by six proposed amendments on the ballot, the Columbus Charter Amendments.

"I expected to see some of them on there. I didn't expect to see as many as I did. Some of them were recognizable and some of them weren't," said Devron Downs, a voter.

Every ten years, a Charter Review Commission studies the city's charter and presents those changes to voters.

"Many of these changes are just done to clean up our charter as it is and correct anything that might be inaccurate or antiquated an no applicable," said David Helmick, a member of the Charter Review Commission.

Helmick says there are some things that you might notice if they are approved like the mayor could have the power to fire certain city officers without first seeking council's approval, but Helmick says there will be a system for appeal.

"We put in the check and balance, an important one, that allows the council to with a vote of six members of more to essentially reverse the mayor," said Helmick.

Another proposal would make it so the mayor cannot hold any office in the government until one year after his or her term end. This already applies to city councilors.

"We don't want anyone to use any kind of influence they might have to get a different position with the city when their current position is running out," said Helmick.

If the last amendment is approved, people who work for Columbus government would be able to run for office in other counties.

Another proposal would one that would require city council to meet at least two times during a month. Now, officials say the charter requires a meeting once a week. Also, officials explain an amendment includes clarification about who appoints the members of the districting commission and another allows for city council members to choose which law best suits the government when there are conflicting county and city laws mandated by the state.

Voters we spoke with caution others to do their research before heading to the polls.

"I was surprised that they were on the ballot this time because I didn't really get a clear understanding of each one of them," said Carnell Earvin, a voter.

Officials tell us there is more information about the proposed amendments at polling locations so that voters can make sure they understand everything before voting.

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