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From the Ballot Box: November 2015


November 2015 ballots in several local governments included questions pertaining to potential changes in form of government or adoption/retention of professional management.

November 2015 ballots in several local governments included questions pertaining to potential changes in form of government or adoption/retention of professional management.

Granite Falls, Washington (pop. 3,500)

Voters in Granite Falls, Washington, located approximately 43 miles northeast of Seattle, narrowly adopted the council-manager form of government by a vote of 264 for to 201 against the change. HeraldNet.com reported that the new form of government cannot be changed or abandoned for six years.

Swansboro, North Carolina (pop. 3,000)

Voters in Swansboro, North Carolina, retained council-manager government by a margin of 380 to 162. Swansboro originally adopted the council-manager form in December 1992, according to JDNews.com.

Tacoma, Washington (pop. 205,159)

Errors in the initiative language were partially to blame for why the proposal to change the form of government in Tacoma, Washington, from council-manager to mayor-council failed by a nearly a 2-to-1 margin. According to The New Tribune, the proposal calling for the change also removed the ability of residents to amend the city charter through referendum and initiative processes and did not reinstate the term-limit provisions for the mayor and council members. The proposal to switch to mayor-council government lost by a margin of 22,023 to 11,581.

Cheyenne, Wyoming (pop. 62,845)

Voters in Cheyenne rejected a measure that would have changed the form of government in Wyoming’s capital city from mayor-council to the mayor-administrator form of government, as allowed by state law. According to Forms of Government in Wyoming: A Handbook for Municipal Elected Officials (March 2008), published by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, “The mayor-administrator plan is similar to [the] city manager form of government with similar duties assigned. The major difference is the city manager is given its powers by the state; the administrator is given its powers by the Governing Body who chooses to adopt a Charter Ordinance.” The measure failed by a vote of 4,508 to 2,578.

ICMA provided guidance and information to the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded the effort to adopt the change, and helped the chamber identify ICMA-member speakers to participate in a public forum in early September.

Need form-of-government assistance?

ICMA provides information, presentations, and other support to individuals and organizations interested in promoting professional management and the council-manager form of government. Contact Michele Frisby, director of communications & public information, at mfrisby@icma.org or 202-962-3658. To learn more about donating to ICMA’s Fund for Professional Management, contact Erin Carr, development manager, at ecarr@icma.org or 202-962-3697.

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