Loudon City Council discussed earlier this month the possibility of staggering election cycles.
Angie Carrier, Municipal Technical Advisory Service municipal management and finance program manager, presented council various options and information on changing the city charter during a Dec. 14 workshop.
The process starts with council determining charter language and passing a resolution for the change. The resolution requires two-thirds of council’s support and is then sent to the Tennessee General Assembly. With state approval, the measure would come back to council for a vote, Carrier said.
“You all would have to recognize if there were some small changes that were made it was probably from the attorney general who can review it and the language,” Carrier said. “But make sure it still has the intent to do what you want to do with your charter before you pass it and sign it, and then, of course, you would send it to the Tennessee Secretary of State for the final approval.”
Carrier said MTAS would help council with language in the initial resolution.
She gave council three options on how to stagger election cycles. Option No. 1 was what council discussed at a Nov. 9 workshop where the top two vote-getters receive four-year terms, while the bottom two receive two-year terms in the November 2022 election.
Option No. 2 would see candidates choose to run for a four-year term or a two-year term when picking up petitions for the November 2022 election. Two seats on council would be designated to a two-year term and two seats designated a four-year term. Candidates would have to choose and could not run for both.
Option No. 3 would extend two current member’s terms by two years. The two receiving the extension, making terms six years, must be named specifically in the charter.
Council members Tim Brewster and Tammi Bivens wanted to let candidates decide on a two- or four-year term.
“Is there a way to word that though that if no one picks up a two-year or if only one person picks up a two-year, then the third-highest vote-getter in the four gets that two-year term?” Bivens asked.
Carrier was fairly positive that wasn’t an option.
“I can go back and check on the legal requirements for that, but I really think you have to do either the highest vote-getters or designated as either a four-year or two-year term,” Carrier said. “I don’t think you can do and/or as far as if there’s not enough that pick it up. I think in that case, if someone didn’t, then the council would probably fill that seat as a vacancy, and you would fill it after the election.”
Because of the various steps and time constraints, Loudon Mayor Jeff Harris said council should not wait until the last minute to pass the resolution.
Carrier suggested council address the matter in January.