COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Thank goodness sanity prevailed, and the Columbia City Council decided against asking voters to decide on changing our city's form of government in April, while we're in the process of electing a new mayor. Whether Columbia needs a strong mayor form of government has long been debated, but never put to public vote.
A strong mayor system requires a fulltime mayor who oversees city operations, employment and budgets. Now, with seven council members, a city manager who answers only to them, and a weak mayor, we get cumbersome decision-making and very little accountability.
To enact any changes, City Council must first put a referendum for change on the ballot. To get a November referendum, an ordinance would have to be passed by August 15th. If the referendum passes and voters elect the strong mayor system of government for Columbia, the earliest we might see as strong mayor sitting as our chief operating officer would likely be 2012 or later.
On April 21, you will have a chance to participate in a public information session to discuss the pros and cons of changing our form of city government. If you live in the city, I encourage you to attend the session. Then, if you get a chance to vote on making a change or sticking with the current form of city government, you can make an informed decision.