Sikeston winds down charter work

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

SIKESTON, Mo. -- The plan for a new city government is nearly complete.

All the hard issues have been hashed out and voted on, and an informal "straw poll" indicates the proposed Home Rule Charter draft will be approved by the commission by the time it concludes its meetings in December.

The nine members of the 13-person commission who were present Monday ended their meeting with discussion of how to "sell" the charter to the voters who must approve the change in April.

Sikeston is embarking upon a city charter that would feature a council made up of four members from wards, two at-large members, and, like Cape Girardeau, a mayor elected at large.

On Monday, commissioners reviewed early drafts of a proposed preface and an informational leaflet.

Commission member Larry Tetley said the people he had spoken with seemed to believe that the Home Rule Charter wouldn't change anything, but commissioners agreed the change to the ward system was a significant change.

Attorney Patrick Cronan of Rocheport, Mo., the commission's legal adviser, said the section dealing with referendum, recall and initiative petitions imparted "a heck of a lot of power that the people don't have now."

Commissioner Manuel Drumm proposed bringing in former mayors to the next meeting so other commissioners could "hear what a mayor actually does ... I don't know why we want to elect a mayor." Drumm expressed concern that three years is a long time for the city staff and city manager to deal with a city leader who does not have any voting power..

The wide range of opinions voiced by members of the public and commissioners regarding the mayor and whether the position should be a strong mayor elected by the people or a weak mayor appointed by the council reminded commissioners that their choice - a weak mayor - was a compromise.

Commissioners approved formally requesting the city council to pass an ordinance placing the charter on the April 2 ballot.

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