Proposal would end special elections for aldermen

November 14, 1994|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

A proposal to abolish special elections for the City Council will be on the agenda when the council meets at 7:30 tonight at City Hall.

The bill would let the council appoint new members for midterm vacancies, said Ward 5 Alderman Carl O. Snowden. New such vacancies are filled only by election.

"Three or four different bills will be introduced to change how the city holds its elections," Mr. Snowden said. "There is a desire to go back to the old system of appointments."

The law once said any new council member who arrives at midterm would be appointed by a central committee made up of members from the city's eight wards. The law changed with the arrival of Ward 1 Alderman Louise Hammond, who came into office in March in a special election.

The bill, which would amend the city's charter, is proposed by Mr. Snowden and Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins.

One of the most heated topics on the agenda, a proposal to expand the Historic District Commission from five to seven members, may be put off until the council's next meeting. Earlier this week, Mr. Hopkins said he plans to table the bill at tonight's meeting, but declined to explain his action.

At the heart of the fight over the commission's composition is a $5 million plan to rebrick and reconstruct Main Street. The project has been in the works for the past year. Construction was to begin in January, but could be delayed months if the commission doesn't grant approval.

City officials have argued that, if construction is delayed, the new governor could decide not to release more than $1 million in state funds already promised to the city.

Mr. Hopkins' bill would change the shape and scope of the historic preservation board by allowing him to appoint two new members. If that happens, commission members who have opposed the city's development plans could see their power diminish.

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