Nominating & Rules Committee forwards council member ward vote to full council

Nominating & Rules Committee forwards council member ward vote to full council

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Nominating & Rules Committee forwarded three items to the full council Tuesday.

The big item on the agenda involved voting for Position 1 city council members.

Right now, when someone runs for city council, the entire city gets to place their vote on two members for six wards.

However, the proposed ordinance would allow Position 1 city council members to be voted in by residents of their ward only, while the remaining council members are elected by the city.

“I think it’s the best of both worlds. You still have six people very focused on the city as a whole and then you have six people that are focused on more pockets of the city and hopefully, those 12 people blend together that are focused on the whole and focused on their wards,” Bryant said.

John Street, a city council member, spoke in favor of the ordinance at the meeting Tuesday and said at the end of the day, the council members are there for the entire city, not just their ward.

“I just think it would lead to less bickering between wards, we’re not gonna get down to a point where it’s all about my ward, it’s about the city in general,” Street said. “We’ve grown, we’re one of the fastest-growing cities in the state because we do things of what’s in the best interest of the city at large.”

A few in attendance did speak out against the ordinance, saying it would only benefit city council members, adding they wouldn’t have to campaign city-wide.

But the ordinance’s sponsor, Jonesboro Councilman LJ Bryant, says several approached him with this change in 2018 when he was elected.

He says the concept would mimic the legislative branch.

While governors are voted on a larger level by more citizens, legislators are voted on by their districts and he says that should be the concept for six council members.

While 12 members represent the city, two are from the same ward and the member in position one, according to Bryant, should be selected by those who live in that same area.

“It makes sense for the citizens of Jonesboro to have representatives that are closest to people that know the streets, know the drainage, know the ditches and know the sidelines. So, this is a real opportunity for half of the council to be very familiar with the issues of their area,” Bryant said.

The council does run on a two-year cycle by position and position two council members are up this year.

If approved by the council, it will be on the ballot this November.

However, it will not go into effect until 2022 if approved by the council and the voters.

Bryant says since this is a fundamental change, it should be up left up to the voters to decide.

A third item, a resolution by the city council to make appointments to boards and commissions as recommended by Mayor Harold Perrin, was also forwarded to the full council in Tuesday’s meeting.

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