One more chance to chime in on city charter changes

The Keizer City Council will hold its final public hearing on changes to the city charter before developing a ballot measure at its meeting Monday, July 6. 

The meeting will be held at the Keizer Civic Center beginning at 7 p.m. 

The changes under consideration for the charter, the city’s founding document, were 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. 

The first portion of the public hearing was held June 15. At that meeting Michelle Roland-Schwartz, executive director of the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force, testified in support of the action. 

“One of the things we know about the LGBTQ+ community is that they experience disproportionate rates of all forms of violence, as well as harassment in school settings and their workplaces,” said Roland-Schwartz. “One of the things we look for is where we can have protective factors that reduce violence and harassment. Eliminating this section from the charter is an opportunity to put a protective factor in place, and signal to our youth and residents that they are accepted and can live and thrive in this community.”

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.

The council is likely to debate their own stances on the changes after public testimony and vote to approve or reject sending the matter to voters. Upon approval by the city council, the changes to the charter will be turned into a ballot measure that will appear on the November ballot. Voters must approve all changes to the charter.