SPECIAL ELECTION TODAY: Madison voters to choose whether to change the city’s governance

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 7:09 AM CDT
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MADISON, Ala. (WAFF) - Madison residents will vote on whether to change the city’s form of government. Voters will decide who they want to run day-to-day operations for the city.

They can keep it as is, a mayor-council style of government, with a mayor at the top and seven city council members or they could bring in a city manager. They would have to remove one city council district so the mayor could be president of the council.

Studies, committees and a citizen-led group, Madison Forward, recommended this structure mainly because the City of Madison is growing

The city manager doesn’t change with the administration so they can focus on long-term projects that last longer than four years, something that’s increasingly common in growing cities. Plus, the city manager would handle the bureaucratic details that are the mayor’s responsibility right now.

“It makes sense to have one person coordinating that at City Hall,” Madison Forward co-chair Terri Johnson said. “If there’s a drainage problem, you might have to get public works involved, you might have to get the city engineer involved, you might have to talk to the finance office to see what kind of money it would take to fix this problem and just helping to coordinate those departments. We think having a professional who knows how to do that would benefit our residents.”

Some groups have some concerns about the possible new form of governance.

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting

NAACP representatives criticize losing one district. They say they need more representatives to allow for more racial diversity in the council.

The “Don’t Mess with Madison” group representatives say this governance erodes democracy because the city manager would be appointed by the city council.

“We don’t want a condensed government runs like a corporate board and where we the people have no say, no voice, no vote,” said ‘Don’t Mess with Madison’ leader Margi Daly.

Polls close at 7 p.m. Polling locations are found here.

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