Phoenix voters are on their way to approving ballot measures that could change the way the city conducts its elections.
There were six city propositions on the ballot, and all were passing in early returns.
The most controversial would consolidate the city’s elections with the county.
Currently, Phoenix holds its regular elections in August of odd years, with a runoff in November if necessary.
If Proposition 411 passes, the city will combine its elections with the county in November of even years and city races will appear on the same ballot as state and federal races. Runoffs will be held in March of the following year if necessary.
Proponents of consolidated elections say it will save the city money and boost the city’s abysmal voter turnout.
Opponents fear that local issues will be drowned out if city elections are combined with national races. They also say consolidating will politicize city elections, which are nonpartisan.
Three of the other Phoenix ballot propositions would make technical changes to the city’s charter related to consolidated elections.
Another measure, Proposition 412, would allow the council to remove members who violate the city’s new nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy.
Proposition 413 would renew the city’s utility agreement with Southwest Gas.
Here’s an in-depth look at each proposition:
Prop. 411: Consolidated elections
Ballot language: Shall Chapter III, Section 6 and Chapter XIII, Sections 1, 3 and 6 of the charter of the city of Phoenix be amended as described to change the dates for regular city candidate elections from the fall of odd-numbered years to November of even-numbered years with any runoff election to be held on the next available permitted election date?
TRANSLATION: This ballot measure would change the date of Phoenix elections to coincide with county and statewide elections.
Right now, Phoenix holds its council and mayoral elections in the fall of odd years, while the county, state and federal races are held during even years.
If this measure passes, Phoenix’s elections will be held in November of even years and the city races will appear on the regular county ballot. If a runoff is required, the city will hold the election in March.
This measure would also have the side effect of extending all of the current council members’ terms by a year so that the next elections fall on even years.
Supporters of consolidated elections say the move will increase voter turnout. Opponents believe it will politicize city elections, which are nonpartisan.
Prop. 412: Sexual harassment policy
Ballot language: Shall Chapter XVII of the charter of the city of Phoenix be amended as described to permit removal of a council member for a violation of the city of Phoenix Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy?
TRANSLATION: The City Council adopted a new nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy for elected officials this year.
Part of that policy allows council members to kick one another off the council if they’re found to have violated the policy.
But allowing the removal of elected officials requires a change of the city’s charter, which requires voter approval.
Voting “yes” on this ballot measure will give the OK for council members to remove elected officials who violate the policy.
Prop. 413: Southwest Gas agreement
Ballot language:Shall the franchise agreement proposed for Southwest Gas Corporation for a term of 25 years to begin January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2043, be granted?
TRANSLATION: This proposition would renew a franchise agreement with Southwest Gas Corp. The renewal would allow Southwest Gas to use public streets and other rights-of-way for 25 years.
The city has to renew its agreements with utilities that operate in public spaces every 25 years.
Prop. 414: Consolidated elections (technical change)
Ballot language: Shall Chapter XXII, Section 3 of the charter of the city of Phoenix be amended as described to eliminate the unanimous vote requirement of the City Council to refer charter amendments to the ballot by descriptive title?
TRANSLATION: This is the first of three technical charter changes that correspond with consolidated elections.
Currently, the Phoenix charter requires that a description of all charter amendments and ballot initiatives be included on the ballot unless the council votes unanimously to place the issues on the ballot.
If voters decide to consolidate elections and place city issues on the county ballot, there will not be enough room for the description of ballot initiatives on the ballot.
If voters approve this ballot measure, it will let the city move forward with consolidated elections (provided that Proposition 411 passes).
Prop. 415: Consolidated elections (technical change)
Ballot language: Shall Chapter III, Section 12 of the charter of the city of Phoenix be amended as described to change the term of the Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected City Officials from odd to even years to align with even-year elections and change their appointments from every two years to every four years to align with mayoral elections?
TRANSLATION: This is another technical charter change related to consolidated elections.
Currently, the city charter now says that a Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials shall convene in odd years to determine the mayor and council salaries.
This ballot measure would change the term of the commission to align with the even-year elections (should Proposition 411 pass).
It would also change the term from every two years to every four years to match the length of a mayoral term.
Prop. 416: Consolidated elections (technical change)
Ballot language: Shall Chapters XV and XVI of the charter of the city of Phoenix be amended as described to authorize verification of all initiative and referendum petitions by a random sample of 20 percent of all petition signatures?
TRANSLATION: This ballot measure would decrease the number of petitions the city needs to verify to place an initiative or referendum on the ballot.
The city now has to verify 100 percent of submitted petitions. This measure would require a random sampling of only 20 percent, which falls more in line with what the county requires.
State law requires a random sample of only 5 percent of petitions.
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