Government, News

Morgantown officials work on ordinance to set special election date

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown officials are working on an ordinance that would set a special election date and provide ballot language for a proposed change to the city’s charter extending council terms from two to four years.

The city desires to place its special election on the ballot of November’s general election, held by the county.

Andrew Stacy, the city’s communication manager, explained that following a first reading from council, the city will submit the ordinance for consideration by County Clerk Carye Blaney and the county’s Board of Ballot Commissioners.

The move to place the charter change question on the county ballot seems to contradict council’s decision to not pursue moving all city elections in line with the county.

When looking at a potential charter change council also weighed whether council member terms should be staggered and whether or not the city should hold its elections in line with the county — a move for which both Blaney and City Clerk Linda Tucker have long advocated.

Blaney has said the move could be accomplished with little cost or effort on either end.

While members of council admitted the move would save the city time and money, and likely increase traditionally low voter turnout, it was feared the non-partisan city elections would be swallowed up by county, state and national story lines.

Then why hold a vote to potentially change the city’s charter on the county ballot?

“By placing the special election on the county’s ballot, it will save the City time and money. Additionally, placing it on the county ballot would generate increased participation,” Stacy explained. “Council voted that it would like to see if the voters want a change to the charter. The least expensive way to do this with the greatest participation is to have the special election included on the county ballot.”