Moving Battle Creek city elections would save money and could increase turnout. But it might also mean less focus on city elections sharing a ballot with state and federal elections.
The Battle Creek City Commission is due to consider moving city elections when they meet on Tuesday. Battle Creek Enquirer Government Reporter Jennifer Bowman says it appears that commissioners favor the change. She says many were convinced by the cost savings, and the opportunity for better coordination among local and county clerks.
Battle Creek Commissioners can move city elections to even-numbered years with a majority vote. Bowman says other ideas would require changing the city charter. She says changes mulled in recent years include voters directly electing the mayor or staggered terms for commissioners.
In order to accommodate the change, commissioners elected in November would serve a three-year term. When the city begins holding elections in even years in 2020, the commission would again be elected to two-year terms. Bowman says commissioners want to make a decision soon. Packets will be available for city commission candidates beginning June 5th. Bowman says commissioners want to make sure that potential candidates understand that they would be running for a three year term this one time.
The city commission deadlocked last week on a proposed ordinance that would have allowed urban livestock in some cases. Bowman says the vote followed more than a year of discussion. Certain animals would have been allowed at residential homes. The number allowed would depend on property size. Bowman says the proposal was backed by people wanting to raise own food, who touted possible economic benefits. But she says opponents raised concerns about animal control.
The vote on the livestock ordinance was 4-4 with Commissioner Mike Sherzer absent. Bowman says it’s possible the commission could re-consider the ordinance. Commissioner Mark Behnke, who voted no, said he was interested in finding a compromise. But Bowman says it’s not clear what that would be. She says it’s also possible that the issue could be viewed differently if new commissioners are elected in November.