New ordinance could change the way councilmembers are elected in NOLA

New ordinance could change the way councilmembers are elected in NOLA
Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 8:30pm

UPDATED: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 5:04pm

Today, Thursday, April 5, Councilmembers Cynthia Hedge-Morrell ("D") and Eric Granderson (At-Large) introduced an ordinance that would put before New Orleans voters a proposition to amend the Home Rule Charter to change the way the two At-Large Councilmembers are elected. The amendment would create two distinct At-Large Councilmember offices that are voted on independently of one another.

The office of Councilmember At-Large is the only elected office in New Orleans where candidates may be elected with less than a majority of votes cast in an election. Currently, the top two candidates running for the At-Large seats who achieve a plurality of at least 25 percent plus one of votes cast are elected to the office.

Splitting the At-Large elections into separate divisions, as is done in Jefferson Parish, would simplify the process and would ensure that At-Large members are elected by a true majority of voters. Both At-Large seats would continue to represent the entire city.

"The present system of electing At-Large Councilmembers is flawed, as it does not require a simple majority. This ordinance will establish two distinct At-Large Council offices, A and B that are voted independent of one another. In addition, the ordinance assures transparency in the election process as well as places the New Orleans City Council-At-Large offices in sync with federal, state and local best election practices," said City Councilmember "D" Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

"Councilmember At-Large is a city-wide elective office. This amendment would create a more representative process of electing candidates to these positions. All other elected officials in New Orleans, including District Councilmembers, must be elected by a traditional majority, and the At-Large Councilmembers should also be determined by the majority of voters. The present provisions for electing Councilmembers At-Large run contrary of fundamental democratic principles and defy good government practices," said City Councilmember At-Large Eric Granderson.

The Ordinance, which may be voted on during the April 19th City Council Meeting, calls for the proposition to appear on the ballot of the November 6th Congressional Election, as is required by the City Charter .

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