MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — People who live in Madison will soon cast a vote that could change the way the city is governed and managed.
On May 9th, residents will vote in a special election to decide if it will implement a council-manager form of governance.
If the measure passes and a council-manager system is approved, the City Council will lose a seat, the Mayor will gain a vote on the council, and a city manager will be hired.
The political action committee (PAC), Don’t Mess With Madison is against the council-manager system.
They are encouraging people to vote “no” on May 9th.
“I don’t see why we can’t just continue the way we have been,” said Tiffany Knox, a member of Don’t Mess With Madison.
Knox continued, “we like having our mayor-council form of government, and we’re not fans of changing to a council-manager form of government.”
If people vote “no”, it means they are voting for the government system to stay the way it is. If that happens, the city of Madison will continue to have seven City Council members, and the Mayor would not have a vote.
A spokesperson for the city of Madison tells News 19 if the measure is passed, the city will have to go through a process of redistricting.
Knox believes the council-manager system is a bad idea.
“It would dilute the voter’s power to have 6 districts versus 7,” Knox said. “We would still have the mayor who would be a voting member, but he would be voting at large so it just dilutes the power of the voter.”
Don’t Mess With Madison is also concerned about the council appointing the city manager, rather than residents being able to vote on who it is.
“We believe that the voters should still have the right to choose who runs our city,” Knox said.
Samantha Magnuson, a communication specialist for the city of Madison spoke with News 19 on Thursday. She explained what a city manager would do.
“They would take on the daily tasks of leading and managing the employees,” Magnuson said. “The mayor would be more of a figurehead in this form of government” she continued.
Magnuson also explained why the city is holding the special election.
“This came off the 2020 census numbers, as Madison continues to grow, council and a separate committee that was formed by citizens looked into this,” she said. “They did their research, they talked with other cities in the state of Alabama, that operate in this manager-council form of government to see, ‘is this something that Madison needs to look into?’.”
“Ultimately, it’s in the people’s hands they can make the decision to change their form of government, or not.”
Thursday evening, Don’t Mess With Madison, held a “sign wave” event at the corner of Zierdt Road and Madison Blvd.
The PAC members held up signs, hoping to draw attention to their cause.
Knox said she hopes their efforts can get people informed about the special election.
“A lot of people, if they aren’t politically engaged, they’re not going to even know that an election is happening, so we just want the community to be aware that there’s an election,” Knox said.
The City of Madison recently shared a list of important dates for the upcoming election:
- April 9: Last day to establish Madison residency/register to vote
- April 11: Absentee applications and ballots will be available at City Hall and online
- April 24: First day to publicly test the electronic vote counters
- May 1: Absentee applicant who did not include a copy of acceptable ID, but who is qualified to vote shall be issued a provisional absentee vote
- May 2: Last day to receive an absentee application by mail
- May 4: last day to apply for a regular absentee ballot by hand
- May 8: Last day up to the close of business for a voter to apply for and submit an emergency absentee ballot, if certain requirements are met
- May 8: Last day up to the close of business for a voter to hand-deliver absentee ballot to the City Clerk’s Office
- May 8: If an absentee ballot is returned by mail, it must be postmarked by May 8th and received by noon on May 9th.
- May 9: Election day. Voting will be held at regular polling places from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The group Madison Forward, is hoping people vote “yes” on May 9th. You can learn more about their reasoning by clicking here.