Oklahoma City Special Election for Charter Amendments

Oklahoma City Special Election for Charter Amendments

OKC municipal courtThe Oklahoma City Council called a special election on Nov. 3 for proposed City Charter amendments that are primarily intended to modernize wording, address inconsistencies and resolve discrepancies with state law.

The proposed changes were introduced August 4, and the final hearing during the City Council meeting on August 18. The election will be the same day as the November 3 nationwide general election, but on a separate ballot available to all Oklahoma City voters at their usual polling place.

TO SEE THE CHARTER AMENDMENT INFORMATION WORDED DIRECTLY FROM THE CITY OF OKLAHOMA CITY, PLEASE SCROLL TOWARDS THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE!

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The OKC Municipal Counselors office and Former LWVOK President, Jean McLaughlin has assisted the LWV of Oklahoma County with the following summary to prepare voters with this information before voting. The City Charter is like the City constitution and can only be changed by Voters. The purpose of these propositions (amendments) is to delete obsolete wording, improve clarification, achieve consistency with state law and make minor changes for improved government functioning. There are no tax issues. Oklahoma City Voters will receive a separate ballot with the 9 propositions at the polls or if they vote by mail.

 

LWVOKC Summaries of the 9  proposed City Charter Amendments 

Proposition 1 relates to Mayor and City council elections.  The name of the February “primary” election would become the “general” election and the April  “general” election will become the “run off” election. It lengthens the time when elected officers take office from one week to four weeks after the April run off election.   The Mayor and Councilmembers will continue to have overlapping 4 year terms. 

Proposition 2 relates to the qualifications for the offices of Mayor and Council members and reformats the section for easier reading. To file as a candidate a person:  

A.  Must be a citizen of the United States and Oklahoma

B.  Must be at least 21 years of age

C.  Must have been a resident of Oklahoma City for at least one year before filing for office. The wording in the current Charter requires 3 years residency that may be found unconstitutional if challenged. 

D. The Mayor must have been a registered voter in Oklahoma City for at least one year.

E.  A City Council candidate representing a ward must have been a registered voter at an address within the ward for at least one year. Previously a 6 months residency was required.  

Proposition 3 provides for filling a vacancy in the office of Mayor. If the vacancy were to occur within the first three years of the Mayor’s term, Council would have 30 days instead of 15 days to call a special election.  If the vacancy occurs within the final year of the Mayors term of office, it shall be filled by majority vote of the Council within 30 days instead of the prior 15 days. 

Proposition 4 relates to when regular meetings of the City Council will be held.  Current language states that meetings will be held every Tuesday.  This is changed to meetings will be held at such times as the Council may designate by ordinance to reflect current practice.    

Proposition 5 relates to the City Manager having exclusive control of city employees. A new section is added to state that the Mayor and any Councilmember may provide information to the City Manager regarding the positive or negative performance of any officer or employee under the City Manager.  This information must be based on direct personal knowledge or on a signed written statement provided by a resident.    

Proposition 6 relates to the two divisions of city government and specifies more clearly their responsibilities. The Division of Public Affairs under the Mayor and the City Council shall include the City Manager, Municipal Counselor, City Auditor, Municipal Judges, and all City boards, commissions and committees created by the Mayor or City Council. The Division of Public Management shall comprise all city departments, functions, agencies, commissions and boards not placed under the Division of Public Affairs. 

Proposition 7 would be a new section in the City Charter that changes the terms of Councilman and Councilmen to consistently refer to such officers as Councilmember, Councilmembers, Councilor or Councilors as grammatically appropriate. 

Proposition 8 would amend the charter to add the word “welfare” to the list of reasons for enacting and enforcing ordinances.  The new wording is ordinances may be enacted to protect health, safety, welfare, life or property. 

Proposition 9 prohibits City officers and employees from accepting anything of value from certain privately owned businesses within the city that is not granted to the general public.   This prohibition applies to any transportation business or utility company that has a franchise or contract with the city.  The wording of this section is changed to more clearly state its intent. 

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details provided from okc.gov/Nov3, including the full text of the proposed changes as follows:

Mayor David Holt appointed a Charter Review Committee that met from February through June, which formally recommended nine proposed amendments after considering a wide range of issues. The committee members were:

There are no tax issues on the ballot. There are nine proposed Charter amendments, and voters will consider them as separate propositions with a “yes” or “no” vote. Each requires a simple majority to pass. The Governor of Oklahoma must also review and sign voter-approved Charter amendments for them to formally become law.

Proposition 1

The first proposed Charter amendment would make minor changes regarding elections for Mayor and Council:

  • The name of the February “primary” election would become the “general” election, and April’s “general” election would become the “runoff” election.
  • Councilmembers and the Mayor would take office four weeks after the “runoff” (currently “general”) election, instead of one week.
  • Requirements for election notices and candidacy declarations would be changed to comply with current state law, which already supersedes the Charter’s outdated language.

If approved, this proposition will amend Article II, Section 2, and Article X, Sections 1-3 of the Charter.

Proposition 2

This proposed amendment would affect qualifications to run for Mayor or a City Council seat:

  • The description of the requirements will be reformatted to make it easier to read.
  • Candidates would be required to live in Oklahoma City for at least 1 year before filing for office. The Charter currently requires at least 3 years of residency, which federal courts have ruled is too long and unreasonably restricts the right to run for office. For years, City elections have therefore relied on a state law to set the residency requirement at 6 months. This amendment would set a new Charter requirement of 1 year, which is compatible with state law and is frequently upheld in federal court.
  • Candidates would be required to be a registered voter in Oklahoma City for the year immediately preceding a formal declaration of candidacy.
  • Candidates for Council seats would also be required to be registered to vote in the Ward in which they are running for at least one year before a formal declaration of candidacy.

If approved, this proposition will amend Article II, Section 6 of the Charter.

Proposition 3

This proposition would extend the time period from 15 days to 30 days to call a special election, or to appoint a temporary Mayor, if the office is vacant. It makes the time period consistent with the same requirement for vacant Council seats. Appointment of a temporary Mayor can only occur if the vacancy is in the last year of the term.

If approved, this proposition will amend Article II, Section 10 of the Charter.

Proposition 4

Proposition 4 would amend an outdated requirement for Council meetings to match the current practice of setting meeting schedules by ordinance. The Council currently meets every other Tuesday.

If approved, this proposition will amend Article II, Section 11 of the Charter.

Proposition 5

This proposed amendment would allow the Mayor or a Councilmember to provide information to the City Manager about a City employee’s job performance. The information would be required to be based on direct personal knowledge, or a signed, written statement from a resident.

The Charter prohibits the Mayor or Councilmembers from giving orders to City Manager subordinates, and from directing or requesting appointment or removal of a City employee. The narrow proposed change in Proposition 5 would explicitly provide a way for the Mayor and Councilmembers to provide positive or negative feedback without violating the Charter.

If approved, this proposition will amend Article IV, Section 4 of the Charter.

Proposition 6

This would clarify who is in the City’s Division of Public Affairs, which is under the direct control of the City Council.

It would include the City Manager, Municipal CounselorCity AuditorMunicipal Court judges, and all City boards, commissions and committees created by the Mayor and Council.

If approved, this proposition will amend Article IV, Section 6 of the Charter.

Proposition 7

This would change the term “Councilman” to “Councilmember” or “Councilor” where the Charter refers to Council representatives.

If approved, this proposition will enact a new Section 11 in Article IX of the Charter that directs the City Clerk to work with the Municipal Counselor to make the changes throughout the Charter.

Proposition 8

This proposal would amend the section of the Charter granting powers to the City government, and reformat it into five subsections for easier reading. It would also add the word “welfare” to the list of powers for enacting and enforcing ordinances “to protect health, safety, welfare, life or property.”

If approved, this proposition will amend Article I, Section 3 of the Charter.

Proposition 9

This proposed amendment would re-word a section heading and more clearly state its apparent, original intent to prevent improper transactions related to certain businesses, and City franchise agreements.

It would prevent City employees and officers from accepting things of value on terms unavailable to the general public from privately-owned transportation businesses and utilities. It would allow for franchises and contracts to be conditioned upon free service for City employees and officers while engaged in official duties.

If approved, this proposition will amend Article IV, Section 12 of the Charter.