PIQUA — Piqua voters approved two charter amendments put before them Tuesday, including one that allows the Piqua City Commission to appoint the mayor themselves.
The charter amendment in regard to the mayor was approved 61.09 percent to 38.91 percent — or 4,549 votes to 2,898 votes — according to unofficial results.
“It’s a really hard one,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said. “I can understand why citizens would want to vote for their mayor.”
The mayor will continue to be an elected member of the commission, but the commission will appoint one of themselves to be the mayor every two years on their first regular meeting in January. This charter amendment will commence in 2018 and take place every two years thereafter. The commission will also appoint the vice mayor at the same time as the mayor.
“The problem is it’s so confusing and has been numerous times on how they vote,” Hinds said. “In some ways, this makes it a little easier to happen in that first meeting in January.”
The mayor has always needed to be an elected commissioner first before being elected as mayor. That meant that up until Tuesday’s election, voters had to vote twice to elect a candidate to the position mayor, once for the candidate’s commission seat and another time for the mayor seat.
When residents were unaware that they needed to vote twice for the candidate they wanted to be mayor, the person who ended up with the most votes for mayor might not have actually become mayor. Since 2000, there were at least four elections in which that happened.
This amendment re-establishes 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 who 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 will stay the same, and will be that the mayor will perform wedding ceremonies, will receive a slightly higher pay, and act as the official head of the city for all ceremonial purposes.
“I can understand both sides of the issue,” Hinds said.
Hinds, along with the commission, wanted to know what the citizens thought on this issue. “This is the way for them to really give them their voice,” she said.
Residents also passed an amendment making a couple of additions as to when the commission is allowed to exit their public meeting and go into executive session.
The amendment passed 70.66 percent to 29.34 percent — or 5,258 votes to 2,183 votes — according to unofficial results.
“That is just bringing us into what the state is doing,” Hinds said, explaining that this charter amendment makes Piqua up to date with the Ohio Revised Code.
The approved amendment will 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.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336