Ypsilanti residents narrowly approve charter amendment
Ypsilanti voters surprised elected officials by choosing to explore a general revision of the city charter.
According to City Clerk Ed Golembiewski, the proposal was approved by 98 votes. The unofficial tally had 51.2 percent, or 2,083 of residents voting in favor, and 48.8 percent, or 1,985, voting against the proposal.
Per the 1994 city charter, the question is required to appear before voters every eight election cycles or 16 years. Voters also selected a charter commission comprised of nine residents to develop a new charter.
Five residents appeared on the ballot and were selected. They were Cheryl Farmer, James Hawkins, Karen Quinlan-Valvo, John Gawlas and William Fennel.
According to an unofficial tally from the Washtenaw County Clerk's Office, voters also selected write-in candidates James Fink, Robert Doyle, Peter Fletcher and Kim Porter-Hoppe to serve on the commission. Rodney Nanney and Karen McConnell didn't receive enough votes.
The committee will have 90 meeting days to develop a new charter, or it can decide after several meetings the charter doesn't need to be changed.
No schedule or time frame is provided on when or how frequently those 90 meetings must happen. The proposed charter would then go in front of voters no less than 60 days after it was developed. If the proposed charter isn't approved by residents, then the current charter will remain in place.
All city council members publicly expressed opposition to the idea of revisiting the current charter. This is the first time since its implementation 16 years ago that voters have considered a revision, and several council members previously said there hasn’t been enough time to judge if such a measure is necessary.
Mayor Paul Schreiber said he hadn't heard of anyone who thought the charter needed a revision.
“I didn’t see it coming, this is a surprise,” he said. “I haven’t talked to anybody who has gotten in my face about why we need a new charter.”
He added he thought the current charter has many strengths.
Council Member Brian Robb previously said he thought any parts of the charter that were of concern could be addressed with a special election.
“I was stunned when I was watching that one come in,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what they do given the make up of who’s on the commission. There’s plenty of room for mischief.”
Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at email@example.com or 734-623-2530.