Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Public Vote Scheduled on Mayor's Powers

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Public Vote Scheduled on Mayor's Powers

Article excerpt

Topekans will vote April 7 on whether to change the city's charter, which is essentially its constitution, to try to clarify what matters the mayor may and may not vote on.

But a separate proposal -- to mandate citywide general elections for each council district -- will see further discussion by a city council committee instead of going up for a citywide vote.

The city's governing body, consisting of council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast, at their meeting Tuesday evening considered both proposed moves, which were among several suggested in May by Topeka's Citizens Government Review Committee. The recommended moves would change the charter ordinance Topekans approved in 2004 establishing rules for its current form of government, which took effect in 2005.

Governing body members voted 7-2 Tuesday evening to approve a charter ordinance that marked the first step toward scheduling a citywide vote on whether to allow Topeka's mayor to have a vote on all matters before the council, unless he or she has veto power as authorized by state law. Votes from seven of the 10 governing body members were required to take that step.

Wolgast and council members Karen Hiller, T.J. Brown, Sylvia Ortiz, Michelle De La Isla, Nathan Schmidt and Elaine Schwartz voted in favor of the proposal. Chad Manspeaker and Richard Harmon dissented. Denise Everhart, who sponsored the proposal, was absent because of illness, Wolgast said.

Governing body members then voted 9-0 to approve an ordinance scheduling the election for April 7.

The proposal would also change the mayor's veto powers to put them in line with state statute, which authorizes a mayoral veto only on ordinary ordinances -- those that are based in the city's constitutional home-rule power and address matters not covered by state law.

The governing body later voted 7-2, with Ortiz and Schmidt dissenting, to send to its policy and finance committee a proposed charter ordinance that would mark the first step toward scheduling a citywide vote on a separate proposal regarding election of council members. …

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