Could We Soon See Changes To How City Council Members Are Elected?

April 05, 2007 -- Posted at 3:30 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro -- In Jonesboro, council members are elected in a city wide vote, but they must live in the ward they represent.

In other forms of government, council members are only voted on by the residents of their ward.

Of course, there are pro's and con's in each method.

Jackson, Mississippi native and Jonesboro's newest council member Faye McCall is adjusting to her new role.

"Most of the time I make a decision on how I would want someone to treat me or do for me if they were making a decision for me.  I want to be able to do it that way," said McCall.

The method foreign to McCall when she got to Jonesboro is the way city council members are elected.

In Jackson, Mississippi council members are elected only by residents in their ward, not a city wide vote like in Jonesboro.

"Initially I thought it was odd, but having been involved and realizing that as an alderman for this particular ward, I still serve the city," said McCall.

Faye McCall says regardless of the ward you live in, the decisions made by the council still have a city wide impact.

"I think it should be where you are voting across ward boundaries. That way you can help select other people that would make good decisions for the city," said McCall.

"I think there's pro's and con's on both sides," said Doug Formon.

Formon says the good thing about the system currently in place is that each city council person represents everyone in the city. Formon does concede that trying to run a city wide campaign is not easy or cheap.

"You literally can't go door to door, city wide, with 80 plus square miles.  Trying to cover it with signs is very tough. It's very expensive. It makes it hard on that average person that wants to run. It becomes very expensive and it's a lot of money out of their own pocket to take on a job with long hours and no money," said Formon.

At the very least, there has been at least thoughts of changing the way council members are elected.

"I think that there has been some talk of going to some type of hybrid system, like going half at large and half by ward.  That would give an even mix to it. You have those at large, and then you have those individuals that if someone did want to get in the race could go door to door literally within their ward," said Formon.

Formon suggests a good time to start exploring other election methods might be after the 2010 census when ward lines will likely be re-drawn anyway.