August 7, 2013

Benjamin wants city-wide vote on "strong mayor" system

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin continues to throw his support behind turning Columbia's form of government to a strong-mayor system and wants to put the proposal to a city-wide vote.

In a release sent out Tuesday evening, Benjamin says he's asking City Council to meet on Aug. 13 to discuss and ultimately support a proposal that would ultimately allow the proposal to come to a vote.

"My request of City Council is simple: let the voters decide," said Benjamin in the release.

Benjamin says Columbia's current form of government limits his role as mayor to one of mere advocacy and not one of "administrative authority".

"Columbia has grown to the point that we need a mayor with modern executive authority. The present system muddies the waters of accountability," said Benjamin. "The time has come to make me and all future mayors accountable to the voters for the quality and efficiency of city government.

The mayor ends his statement by saying he will support a petition drive to push for a ballot referendum if there is no movement on the issue from City Council.

A petition would need the support 15 percent of Columbia voters in order for a special election to be called.

If that petition is certified or Council votes to allow a special election, that election must be held between 30 and 90 days later.

City Council previously debated changing the city's form of government to the strong mayor system, but eventually decided against the plan in a 4 to 3 vote back in May 2012.

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