PIQUA — Piqua residents will be voting on two possible amendments to the city charter, including one that would alter how the mayor is elected.
As it is now, in order to be elected mayor in Piqua, one must first be elected a city commissioner. When residents are unaware that they need to vote twice for the candidate they want to be mayor — once for the candidate’s commission seat and another time for the mayor seat — the person who ends up with the most votes for mayor may not actually become mayor. Since 2000, there have been at least four elections in which that happened.
During the commission meetings in May and June, commissioner Joe Wilson pointed out that does not happen in every election, but it seems to happen during elections in which the candidates running for mayor are also from the same ward. When candidates from the same ward are running for mayor, the ballot seems to give the false impression that voters can vote for one candidate to be the commissioner of that ward and the other candidate to be the mayor. The reality is that only one candidate is actually able to be elected and that candidate will act as both commissioner and mayor.
The proposed amendment re-establishes how the mayor is chosen. Instead of the public electing someone to that specific position, the commissioners will elect the mayor every two years. The commissioners will also elect a vice mayor every two years. Only sitting commissioners will be eligible to be mayor or vice mayor.
This amendment actually changes the city charter to what it was before 1975, when the charter was amended at that time. City Attorney Stacy Wall explained at previous commission meetings that the charter was changed in 1975 due to the residents not approving of whom the commission elected as mayor.
The commission itself would be left at five members. The differences between the mayor and the rest of the commissioners would stay the same and would be that the mayor could perform wedding ceremonies, would receive a slightly higher pay, and act as the official head of the city for all ceremonial purposes.
“The reason for this is trying to eliminate the confusion among the voters on having to vote twice,” Wilson said at a previous commission meeting.
Residents will also be voting on making a couple of additions as to when the commission is allowed to exit their public meeting and go into executive session. The proposed amendment would change the charter to allow the commission to go into executive session to discuss economic development, matters of security or emergency protocols, and anything else authorized by the Ohio Revised Code.
The commission first discussed these potential charter amendments in a worksession in January and then bringing them to their regular meetings as ordinances in the summer. The commission held three readings of each ordinance before unanimously approving to send the proposed charter amendments to the Miami County Board of Elections to have residents vote on them.
Reach Sam Wildow at [email protected] or (937) 451-3336