Council to consider host of amendments to City Charter

Rule changes could be in the works for future Prescott municipal elections, if the Prescott City Council opts to take a host of charter amendments to the voters.

At its study session at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, the council will discuss possible changes to the Prescott City Charter.

Among the categories of potential change: calculations for declaring winners in the City Council primary; the city clerk’s duties in verifying nominating petitions; and the length of the mayor’s term.

A city memo notes that any action on the changes would need official council approval at a later meeting, and would then require a public vote.

City Manager Michael Lamar said a change in the way the city calculates the majority vote in the primary is being suggested to avoid the confusion that often occurs after the primary.

The suggested wording states: “Any candidate who shall receive at the primary election, the number of votes constituting a majority of all of the legal votes cast in that candidate’s race, shall be declared to be elected to the office for which he is a candidate, and no further elections shall be held as to said candidate.”

Lamar said the change would put the emphasis on votes cast in a specific race, rather than on the number of ballots cast.

“(The change) would be going more with the norm,” he said. “It would make it more clear.”

City Clerk Maureen Scott added that the change “could definitely change the outcome of the vote.”

Under the current city code, candidates can be elected outright in the primary by receiving 50 percent plus one of the ballots cast.

The seats that are not filled in the primary then go on to a runoff in the general election, with the two top vote-getters for each unfilled position advancing.

Usually, the status is fairly clear on primary night — with one or two winners elected outright, and the top vote-getters among the others proceeding to the general.

Some confusion arose in the 2017 primary, however, because six candidates were seeking three seats on the council, and none reached the 50-percent, plus-one mark.

Another of the suggested amendments would extend the current two-year term for mayor to four years.

Scott said a survey of Arizona cities indicated that a majority have four-year terms for mayor.

The amendments also could adjust the level of verification required by the city clerk’s office to verify the signatures submitted when candidates file for City Council, as well changing the name of the council’s second-in-command from “mayor pro tem” to “vice mayor.”

Along with the proposed election changes, the council also will consider adjustments in matters such as advertising requirements for city bids, motions for reconsideration, and the sale of city property.

The council’s voting session will take place at 3 p.m., April 24, and will consider:

• A ban on smoking in city parks, with designated smoking areas.

• A $344,976 contract with the Amec Foster-Wheeler firm for the final three tasks in determining solutions for cleaning up the pollution in Watson Lake.

• Rescinding an earlier letter of support for an interim contract for service at the Prescott Municipal Airport.

Both meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.