On November 2, voters in several communities responded to form-of-government questions on their ballots. Following is a summary of the efforts in which ICMA was engaged and those we’ve become aware of as of November 4.
Colorado Springs Voters Oust Council-Manager Government
By a margin of 60 to 40 percent, voters in Colorado Springs, Colo. (pop. 360,000), adopted Initiative 300, which changed the city’s structure to mayor-council and ended a 90-year history of council-manager government in the city. The initiative was backed by more than $800,000 in support from local developers. ICMA worked with the League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region to develop a series of “Vote-No” ads that appeared in print and online editions of the local papers and which were underwritten by the ICMA Fund for Professional Management. ICMA thanks former Colorado Springs managers George Fellows, Lorne Kramer, and Jim Mullen; ICMA Senior Advisor Mark Achen; and Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League for their tireless efforts to retain the C-M form in Colorado Springs.
Council-Manager Proposal Fails Second Time in Freeport, Ill.
For the second time in as many years, voters in Freeport, Ill. (pop. 24,699) rejected a proposal to replace the city’s mayor-council structure with council-manager government, this time by a vote of 3,124 to 2,805. Two years earlier, voters voted against council-manager government by a 65-to-35 percent margin (6,349 to 3,412). ICMA staff and ICMA Range Rider Steve Berley provided guidance to the pro council-manager citizens’ group Freeport Citizens for Professional Government.
Home Rule, Council-Manager Charter Adopted in Luzerne County, Pa.
Residents in Luzerne County, Pa. (pop. 312,845), voted 51,326 for and 41,600 against a proposal for a home rule charter recommending council-manager government. Starting in January 2011, a county manager and a part-time, 11-member council will replace the current full-time, three-member commission. The ICMA Fund for Professional Management provided financial assistance to Friends of Home Rule, the citizens’ group advocating council-manager government.
Mayor-Council Replaces Council-Manager in Vernon Township, N.J.
By a nearly 3-to-1 margin (4,834 to 1,807), voters in Vernon Township, N.J. (pop. 24,825), abandoned council-manager government and replaced it with the mayor-council form. ICMA provided support to the pro council-manager citizens’ group Vernon Organization to Educate to Save Our System, and the ICMA Fund for Professional Management provided financial assistance to the group.
Second Attempt to Adopt C-M Unsuccessful in Fostoria, Ohio
For the second time in a row and by a nearly 2-to-1 margin (2,142 against and 1,125 for), voters in Fostoria, Ohio (pop. 12,872), chose not to replace the mayor-council form with a council-manager structure. The proposal failed during last year’s election by only 45 votes.
Wheat Ridge, Colo., Retains Council-Manager Form
Residents in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge, Colo. (pop. 32,000), voted to retain council-manager government by a 61-to-39-percent margin (5,053 to 3,245). ICMA staff provided support to two council members committed to retaining council-manager government and provided a disbursement from the ICMA Fund for Professional Management to the local pro-C-M citizen’s group.
No Manager for Urbana, Ohio
By a vote of 2,014 to 1,061, residents in Urbana, Ohio (pop. 11,384), rejected a proposal that would have abolished the position of mayor and changed city operations to the council-manager structure.
Mayor-Council Form Retained in Lake Placid, Fla.
Residents in Lake Placid, Fla. (pop. 1,985), rejected the proposal to replace the current mayor-council government with council-manager by a vote of 267 to 118.
Nolanville, Tex., Opts to Change City’s Government
Voters in Nolanville, Texas (pop. 2,000), adopted the city's first home-rule charter by a margin of 65 to 35 percent (324 to 176), paving the way for council-manager government and the appointment of a city manager.
Town Manager Retained in Wilmington, Vt.
Turnout of nearly 50 percent resulted in residents in Wilmington, Vermont (pop. 2,347) voting by a 2-to-1 margin (526 to 227) to retain the current town manager form of government.