@Letter Open, Close:Editor, Daily Press:

Soon, Tahlequah residents will begin receiving their absentee ballots, which contain a number of federal and state races, state and county questions, and five propositions to amend the Tahlequah City Charter.

Tahlequah's charter was adopted in 1940, before the U.S. entered World War II and while Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, NSU's Wilson Hall was just three years old, and many local streets didn't exist or were simply dirt tracks. The City Charter was last amended in 2005, when terms for elected city offices were extended to four years and staggered, so only two wards elect councilors during each February municipal election, held during odd years. A City Charter Review Committee was last appointed to consider additional changes in 2010, and although that committee made seven recommendations, none were considered by the City Council nor submitted to voters.

Earlier this year, Mayor Sue Catron recommended a new Charter Review Committee and the City Council approved the committee members on June 1, 2020. Since then, the committee has held nine meetings and substantive email exchanges and subcommittee meetings. The committee reviewed the city charter and recommendations of the committee, gathered information from the mayor and city administrator, interviewed city officials from Pryor and Muskogee, reviewed the charter of those cities, and studied information provided by the Oklahoma Municipal League.

The committee unanimously approved five city charter propositions to be submitted to city voters:

1. Expand the council to include two members per ward.

2. Appoint the street commissioner based on job qualifications and with City Council approval.

3. Appoint the city treasurer based on job qualifications and with City Council approval.

4. Allow the mayor to vote on all matters.

5. Provide a recall mechanism for elected city officials.

These provisions include two 2010 recommendations: Nos. 2 and 5 above.

The committee's proposal was presented by resolution to the Tahlequah City Council on Aug. 17, recommended unanimously by the City Council, and the five propositions will be decided by city voters in a special election, to be held along with state and national general elections Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The committee wanted to present these important propositions during a regular federal and state election so more citizens are likely to vote than during a typical February municipal election. The timing gives prospective candidates for any newly-created offices - or for offices filled by appointment - ample time to make informed decisions before the December filing date.

Therefore, the Charter Review Committee unanimously recommends that voters mark "Yes, in favor of the Proposition" for each of the five items on the ballot. Over the next few weeks, the committee will present important information about each of the propositions and why they are needed as Tahlequah continues to attract new residents and experience additional economic growth. In the meantime, if you would like a member of the Tahlequah City Charter Review Committee to speak to your local group about the propositions, contact any of the members below or email committee chair Peggy Glenn at peggy.glenn@aol.com.

@Letter Open, Close:Tahlequah City Charter Review Committee

@Letter Open, Close:J.D. Carey, Carol Choate, Dower Combs, Brian Duke, Mark Gish, Peggy Glenn, Brian Hail, Bree Long, Yolette Ross, and Linda Spyres

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