Tuesday, February 14, 2006

City Races Set

The candidates for the upcoming Laurel City Election were certified last night. Here is how the ballot should look. The incumbents are indicated in bold.

Mayor (select only 1)

Craig A. Moe (unopposed)

Councilmember At Large (select only 1)

Monique Holland
Michael R. Leszcz

Councilmember Ward 1 (select only 2)

Jhanna E. Levin
Janis L. Robison
Gayle W. Snyder

Councilmember Ward 2 (select only 2)

Michael B. Sarich
Frederick Smalls
Dennis Whitley, III


Should the salary of the Mayor be increased from Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) per annum to Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) per annum in accordance with the recommendation of the Citizen's Salary Review Committee?

Select Yes or No

Should the salary of the City Councilmembers be increased from Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00) per annum to Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7, 500.00) per annum in accordance with the recommendation of the citizen's Salary Review Committee?

Select Yes or No

It is wonderful that we have contested elections in the council races. I hope to conduct interviews with the candidates and post their comments here. If you have questions for the candidates please leave them in the comments section and I'll try to get answers.

The Laurel municipal election will by held on MONDAY March 20th, 2006 at the Phelps Center, 701 Montgomery Street from 7am to 8pm.

See the city election page for voter information.

"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you." -Pericles


Anonymous said...

If Craig Moe gets less than a majority of votes of the people voting that day, can we just do without a Mayor?

Elden Carnahan said...

I note with interest that persons from our town are willing to act on our behalf as our elected representatives. I also note that at least two issues of public policy are up for a vote on the same ballot. Why is that? Why won't our well-compensated representatives be deciding those issues? (I'm not naive--I know this goes on all the time, and not just here.)

Rick Wilson said...

Elden: The Council salaries must be set by referendum. See section 311 of the City Charter,

"The ordinance making any change in the salary paid to the councilmen, either by way of increase or decrease, shall be finally ordained prior to themunicipal election for the members of the next succeeding council and shall take effect only as to the members of the next succeeding council, and provided further that such ordinance shall take effect only upon approval by the majority of the qualified voters voting therein at the next regular or special election."


However, you are correct for the Mayor's salary. It can be set by the Council without a referendum. But Laurel tradition has been that it is set by referendum as well, usually at the same time as the Council's.

As to the idea of well-compensated, I'm afraid to calculate the hourly rate for any of these postions. The job is pretty demanding.

Anonymous said...

If you are not elected, what contributions will you make to the City as a citizen and not an elected official?

Elden Carnahan said...

I had no doubt that this referendum was legit. I question the validity of referenda in general. Whenever I go to the polls I am presented with a very long list of questions that I as a layman feel unqualified to decide on. Sure, the building of bridges and libraries is a good thing, but perhaps not a particular bridge or library. I could educate myself on all those questions, but I am not the one elected to set public policy. However, not to vote on those questions gives the power to other laymen who may be even less informed than I am.

I can see it in a case where the issue is one in which a "yes" vote unambiguously benefits the elected member, as here re the pay raise. Congress seems to have no difficulty regulating their own pay, I notice.

As a simple voter, I feel this heavy reliance on referenda to decide difficult issues is a way to evade taking the heat when the bills come due.

Rick Wilson said...

Thanks for the question anon. It is a good one.

The decision to run for elected office is complicated. Some are motivated by a call to service, some want a chance to right a wrong, others are excited for the opportunity to forge a new path for the city. All of these are noble and legitimate reasons to run in my mind.

But your question makes an interesting point in that there are many ways of accomplishing those goals beyond being elected.


Rick Wilson said...

I dislike complicated referenda as well. I find the number and complexity on our county ballot discouraging. The local press rarely explain them well, if at all. And I am not usually motivated to learn about them on my own.

I don't believe our city ballot has had any referenda beyond salary changes for at least 50 years. The Laurel Salary Review Commission concured in your suggestion of changing the Charter and eliminating the referenda requirement for salary changes during deliberations this year.
I believe that it is worth considering. The council can easily pass a Charter amendment if they chose.

Anonymous said...

If a write-in candidate for Mayor wins, say someone like Oprah or Dr. Phil, are they obliged to serve? I bet the meetings would be packed if Oprah was giving away cars twice a month!

Anonymous said...

I would like to know from the council members if they will vote for the museum row project as it is presented now 2/21/06.

Rick Wilson said...

I will ask them. Thanks Anon.