Salisbury City Council has first town hall to discuss possible election changes

Published 12:05 am Saturday, April 1, 2023

SALISBURY — On Thursday night, the Salisbury City Council got to find out where residents stand on the local election process and if any changes need to be made. They held the first of three town halls at the Salisbury Civic Center so citizens could speak their minds about how they thought the election should be structured.

The main topics that council brought up were if terms should be two years or four, if terms should be staggered, and if the size of council should increase. Council has the authority to change other parts of the election process like the mode of election or form of government.

City Attorney Graham Corriher and Administrative Services Director Kelly Baker gave a presentation on city council’s procedures for enacting the changes and the timeline for them. Statistics were shown for how other nearby municipalities have their councils designed as a frame of reference on how to proceed.

If changes are done by an ordinance without a referendum they would into effect for this year’s election. If there is a referendum with at least 5,000 signatures or 10 percent of the population, whichever is less, then the referendum would be on this year’s ballot and would not go into effect until 2025.

Some of the comments that were made by the public mentioned that council shouldn’t do anything and keep everything as is. Other comments included the argument for having longer terms.

Mayor Karen Alexander thought the discussion was “Very varied, it was interesting.” She appreciated the enthusiasm of those who attended the town hall, but would like to hear additional voices next time.

“I think that the questions were good. We would like more input, we only had a few people here. So we’re hoping that on the other two we have a lot more.”

Mayor Alexander mentioned the city might send out an email survey to get more feedback from residents. “It’s really an important decision for a community.”

Geoffrey Hoy sees these meetings as a way to strengthen local government. He plans to attend future town halls and wants other people to get involved in the process, too.

“We need to listen and I see city council is providing that opportunity for more people and the additional opportunities for these sessions is healthy and good. I hope more people participate so that we don’t make a quick decision or we don’t leave sitting on the table unfinished business.”

The second town hall will be on Monday, April 17, at 6 p.m. at the Miller Recreational Center.