The Keizer City Council will hold the first of two public hearings on changes to the Keizer City Charter at its meeting Monday, June 15.
The second public hearing will be held on July 6. Both meetings are held at the Keizer Civic Center beginning at 7 p.m.
The council will be discussing changes to the charter, the city’s founding document, recommended by a task force that spent the past six months scrutinizing every word and comma. The council convened the task force with an eye toward removing a section that marginalizes LGBTQ+ residents.
The removal of the offending section, Section 44, is the major change recommended by the task force, but its members also found other ways to make the document more inclusive, such as using less gendered language throughout the document.
“We were careful to make sure that we were changing the language to gender neutral language. Our task force picked apart every little word and did it with the intention of making this a long-term document. Our city and community will continue to change and this is a document that will survive the changes,” said Councilor Elizabeth Smith at a city council work session Monday, June 8. Smith also chaired the charter review task force.
Other recommendations include reordering some sections of the charter for clarity and making it easier to read and understand. While some larger changes were discussed, such as switching to electing city councilors by district or ranked-choice voting, not enough members of the task force voted to move forward on those matters. Despite not making the cut, residents are welcome to talk with the council about support or opposition to such changes during the public hearings as the council has the final say.
Upon approval by the city council, the changes to the charter will be turned into a ballot measure and sent to voters in November. Voters must approve all changes to the charter.
Readers can review the existing language alongside the proposed changes at keizertimes.com.