Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Move to Make Mayor Run Council Is Defeated

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Move to Make Mayor Run Council Is Defeated

Article excerpt

Not even the threat of an initiative petition and a special election could persuade the St. Charles City Council to let voters decide whether the mayor should preside over council meetings.

Council members voted 5-3 Tuesday to defeat a proposal by Council President Nancy Matheny to amend the city charter to have the mayor replace the council president as the head of each meeting of city elected officials.

The vote came moments after two members of the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the bill.

St. Charles is the only city in the state in which someone other than the mayor presides over official meetings, said John Deal, the chamber's immediate past president. He said having the mayor in that position enhanced the image of official meetings and gave them a more formal tone. He pointed out that the mayor was elected citywide, whereas council members were not. Deal said that unless the council members put the issue on the April ballot, he and other residents would do it for them through an initiative petition drive.

"It's a time-consuming and expensive process," he said. "We're asking you to take the burden off of us and pass this bill."

To put an initiative on the ballot, at least 10 percent of the number of those registered to vote in the last municipal election in April must sign a petition, the city charter says. That amounts to 2,825 voters, or 10 percent of the 28,247 residents who were registered for the April 1993 election.

Ed Pundmann, an auto dealer who headed the committee that drafted the city charter in 1981, said he was puzzled by the council's stubbornness on the issue. "All I'm asking is that you let me vote on the issue," he said.

Pundmann also noted that the council dutifully took the recommendations of a charter review commission two years ago and put all the group's proposed changes on the ballot for approval - except the question of the mayor presiding over meetings. …

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