During its July 13th meeting, the Plymouth Township Council’s council took the first step to potentially change how council members are elected. Currently, four of the five members are elected to represent a district and one member is elected at large. The elections of the seats on the council are staggered so that every two years at least two seats are up for election.
During the July 13th meeting (which was continued from July 11th), Plymouth Township’s council voted unanimously to direct the township’s solicitor to draft an ordinance that would authorize the creation of a Government Study Commission. If the council adopts the ordinance, voters would then vote on whether to establish the commission and elect its members (which by law can have seven, nine, or 11 members). If established, the commission would then study the issue and make a recommendation. The issue is then put to the voters for a final decision. The entire process would take approximately two years to implement and the first election for all at-large seats on council would take place in 2025.
On his Facebook page, Council President Chris Manero outlined what he believes are benefits from switching to having a council elected entirely at-large:
– Residents currently do not get to choose all of the council members, even though all members of council make decisions that impact the township as a whole. This change would allow all members of the electorate to vote for all 5 council members.
– Issues we address on council are rarely limited to impacting just one segment of the township. Budget, taxes, services, roads, parks, development, etc. typically impact everyone and are frequently addressed by all members of council, no matter which ward they represent.
-Residents would get to elect 2 or 3 council members every two years.-Both political parties would have the ability to recruit candidates to run from a much larger pool for every election. This would not only help to find candidates (which is often difficult at the local level), but it could also help to diversify a slate of candidates without confining the eligible candidates to living in just one particular part of the township.
-It would take any ambiguity out of any possible future redistricting. After each census, if the population within the township shifts enough, the voting wards need to be redistricted (much like we see with the state legislature and the US Congress). That process has become overtly political at the state and federal level. Going to an all at-large election would ensure that politically-influenced redistricting would never become an issue at our local level.
The council will likely vote on the adoption of the ordinance during its meeting in August.
You can watch the vide of the discussion on this issue below (the video is cued to the start of the discussion).