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City Voters Soundly Reject Charter Measure

By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, voters defeated a ballot measure this week that would have converted the city’s government from general law to charter.

City Clerk Mary Lou Morey said that 4,236 residents--about 11.5% of the city’s registered voters--cast ballots Tuesday.

The final tally was 1,486 votes in favor of the charter and 2,732 against, Morey said.

City officials and elected leaders had hoped to begin operating under a charter, saying it would provide more independence from the state.

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General law cities are governed under state codes, while charter cities are empowered by their charters to enact a wide variety of local ordinances.

Mayor Frank Fry Jr. said Wednesday that he thought city officials could have done a better job of promoting their position.

“We didn’t have enough time to [explain] what it was all about,” Fry said. “I think that’s why most people voted against it--they didn’t know what it could do for the city.”

“I’m not really shook up about” the election’s outcome, he added. “We’ve been operating this way for 40 years, so there is just no change.”

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Fry said the city might revisit the issue at a later time.

Resident Robert J. Crossley, who wrote the ballot argument against the charter, said he was pleased by the vote. The charter document, Crossley had argued, was vaguely worded and would have placed excessive power in the hands of the City Council.

“I think its a great thing for the city,” he said. “The voters did themselves a big favor.”

Crossley said he thought voters reacted negatively to a lack of information provided on the complex issue.

“They were pretty much being asked to vote in the dark, and they resented that,” he said. The city “had from June until February to tell voters what was going on. They didn’t, and voters resented not being a part of the process.”


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