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Two BE City Charter changes on ballot

By Staff | Oct 28, 2012

When voters in Blue Earth go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6, it won’t just be local candidates they will be casting their ballots for.

On the ballot will be two questions concerning whether two proposed changes to the city’s Charter should be made.

One has to do with making all the City Council members be elected at-large, while still keeping the Ward system in place.

The other deals with increasing the percentage of ‘Yes’ votes needed to change the Charter from its current 51 percent margin to a 60 percent margin.

Listed as City Question 1, the first amendment question asks if a proposed change to the Charter should be made, which will keep the Ward designations, but would have all council members elected at-large.

At-large means that all of the citizens of Blue Earth would be casting votes for all of the candidates running for open council positions.

However, the Wards would be kept in place and used as voting precincts.

Some citizens have expressed concern that the wording on the ballot is confusing, but basically a ‘Yes’ vote means all the council members will be elected at-large, a ‘No’ vote will mean things stay as they are, with two council members elected from each of the three Wards.

The other proposed amendment is listed as City Question 2.

A ‘Yes’ vote on this question means the voter wants the percentage of votes necessary to change the City Charter to increase from its current simple majority of 51 percent to a 60 percent majority vote.

Once again, a ‘No’ vote means the voter wishes the percentage to remain at 51 percent.

There are two ways the City Charter can be amended (changed).

The first is having the Charter Commission decide and vote on a change, which is sent to the City Council.

The change is only effective with full approval of the council.

The other requires a petition of the citizens to place the question on the ballot.

The change to go to an at-large elected council was placed on the ballot by a citizen’s petition. The second question, concerning the voting percentage was placed on the ballot by the Charter Commission itself, as they opted to let the public decide the issue.

The complete wording of the two ballot questions was included in the sample ballots printed on Page 19 of last week’s Faribault County Register.