‘Limited’ forum to be held on city charter changes

Keizer’s city council hopes to put revisions to the city charter on the ballot this November and, to stay on track, the committee tasked with making revisions is planning to hold a limited public forum on Tuesday, April 21.

The forum is planned for 7 p.m. in the Keizer Civic Center and there will be some limited opportunities to testify in person while practicing social distancing. However, participation will available through ZOOM video conferencing as well. Those interested in participating in the forum via teleconferencing should contact Debbie Lockhart at [email protected] or at 503-856-3418 no later than 3 p.m. the day of the meeting. Written testimony can also be submitted in the Civic Center lobby or emailed to Lockhart by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting.

The changes suggested by the committee thus far have primarily been made for clarity and removal of language that marginalizes LGBTQ+ residents. However, the committee is seeking public input on several other questions:

• Changing the way city councilors are elected from “at large” to voting by ward or district. At large, the way councilors are currently elected, means that councilors can run for any position on the council regardless of where they live in the city. Ward or district voting would require candidates to arise from specific areas in the city where they live.

• Changing the way councilors are elected from a head-to-head contests to an alternative method such as ranked choice voting. In a ranked choice system, voters would rank candidates in order of preference with the top overall picks filling the vacancies.

• Changing the term of city councilors from four years to two years.

• Changing how council vacancies are approved. Currently if a council office becomes vacant, the vacancy is filled by appointment and finishes out the remainder of the previous councilor’s term. Alternately, the council could send the matter back to voters in a special election. Salem’s city council requires a special election if the remaining term of the vacating councilor is more than a year.

Those wishing to provide testimony can speak on all those questions or whichever ones they choose.