Council wants to change its election dates

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lewisburg's councilmen want to move their elections from May to August or November to save $12,000 every other year because city elections would be held with other elections funded by the county.

Changing the city's election schedule will require an act of the Tennessee General Assembly because the Lewisburg Charter would have to be amended, according to discussion during a council meeting last week.

A couple of factors affect when the election schedule could be changed. State lawmakers have adjourned until their regular session starts next year. Without a change in place, Marshall County Elections Administrator Jo Ann Henry is required to make candidate petitions available in December to start a series of steps toward Lewisburg's election in May.

"I think we're forced to have the May 2011 election," City Recorder Connie Edde said during the last of several budget workshops for Lewisburg's revenue and spending plan that was adopted for the fiscal year starting Thursday.

Councilman Ronald McRady agreed: "Let's go ahead and have the next election as it's scheduled."

Lewisburg elections are held on the first Tuesday in May in odd years. May 2009 saw the election of Mayor Barbara Woods and Councilmen McRady, Hershel Davis, and Odie Whitehead Jr. Their terms started June 1, 2009. May 2011 will be when Councilmen Robin Minor and Quinn Brandon Stewart face voters.

If city election dates were reset, then the length of the terms of office would have to be adjusted, temporarily, to accommodate the new schedule. Exactly how that's to be accomplished remains to be seen.

A significant factor wouold be whether the city elections would be held in August or November. If they're in August they would be when the county general election is held, but it's also when the state and federal party primaries are held.

"I feel like November would be better than August, because that's the general" election for state and federal offices, McRady said.

Furthermore, there's no political party primary conducted in November.

"I think it would be less confusing," McRady said.

Recognizing there was a consensus of the council to save money by changing election dates, Stewart suggested that the agenda for the next council meeting include this subject for official consideration and a possible vote.

The consensus appeared obvious during a non-voting workshop that was followed by a special called meeting of the council that had only three specific issues available for consideration, one being the adoption of the budget that's effective until June 30, 2011.