CS Charter Being Reviewed; Public Hearing Wednesday

College Station Charter Review Advisory Commission Website
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Last month, one of the big talking points in the municipal elections locally were the College Station recall propositions. All three recalls of sitting councilmembers failed.

Now, a group put together by the council is examining whether the charter should be amended on that issue.

Wednesday, you have a chance to make your voice heard. A public hearing is set for 5:30 p.m. at city hall. Members of the ten-person commission will be on hand to hear what citizens have to say about potential changes to the charter.

More than a dozen items and issues are being reviewed, including whether to re-write the language in the article on initiatives, referendums and recalls. Many who opposed the recalls of Mayor Nancy Berry and Councilmembers Katy-Marie Lyles and Dave Ruesink said it was a misuse of the traditional recall provision. Recall, they claimed, should only be used in cases of illegal activity or actions unbecoming of a councilmember.

Proponents of the recall said the charter was written fairly and allowed for an additional check and balance if the council was not acting in a way a majority of voters thought was right.

Nearly three-fourths of voters shot down the recalls of Berry, Lyles and Ruesink during the May general election.

Also, the charter commission chose to examine whether the city should change from at large seats on the council to single-member districts or what's known as a residency place system.

Right now, all members of the city council in College Station represent all citizens. Voters city-wide decide each council race.

In Bryan, single member districts are in place, with five councilmembers representing five specific locations. Registered residents can only vote for their district's representatives, along with the mayor and one at-large councilmember.

Abilene has a residency place system. As explained on the city's website, "six City Councilors represent each of six 'places' in the city (three north of S. 1st Street and three south of S. 1st) but are elected and serve 'at-large', representing all the citizens of Abilene. Councilors serve staggered three year terms with two members up for reelection each year. The Mayor is also elected at large and also serves a three-year term."

The College Station commission asked city staff for a copy of Abilene's city charter to examine that option.

Currently, College Station councilmembers serve three-year terms. The commission is looking at changing terms to two years, which is what College Station had at one point.

The panel is also examining term limits. Right now, a councilmember cannot serve six consecutive years.

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