On Nov. 6, the residents of Nicholasville will be asked to make a choice to keep the current commission form of city government or switch to a council-ward form of government. Two months ago, The Journal asked representatives from both sides to pen a guest commentary presenting their cases. Nicholasville Mayor Russ Meyer, who has publically stated he does not plan to seek re-election in 2014, wrote the pro-commission view, while Perry Barnes, chairperson for the Nicholasville Council Petition Committee, penned the pro-council view.
It’s simple. Nicholasville residents will want to vote “NO” Nov. 6.
• increase the size of city government,
• increase the cost of city government,
• reduce representation by city commissioners,
• divide our city, or
• give too much power to one person.
As a city commissioner for six years and your mayor for an additional six years, I’m very aware of what works and what doesn’t in local government. I’m not running for city office again, so this vote won’t impact me as a public official. My concern is for the community as a whole, and I can say with complete conviction that the commission form of government is working very well for us. There is no good reason to change it.
This potentially disruptive effort is being led by former mayor John Martin and Perry Barnes. Martin first raised the issue while still mayor. The city commissioners heard Martin out, looked at the option and even discussed it with superintendents.
In addition to finding no good reason to support the notion, we found it would give the mayor a disproportionate share of power. I also believe it would create undue partisanship and pave the way for career politicians.
Many people don’t realize Nicholasville had a mayor/council form of government up until 1974 and it was voted out due to ineffectiveness. Back then, we had eight council members rather than the four commissioners we currently have.
Our city is about five times larger now, so it would likely require the maximum 12 council members guidelines allow. Anyone who wants that is just begging for petty politics.
Here are more facts to back up why I say no to the mayor/council form of government.
• Serve special interests more than the whole.
• Increase commissioners’ pay by up to 400 percent.
• Cost many thousands of dollars in professional fees.
• Sidetrack commissioners for much of 2013 just to reorganize government.
• This will take attention away from our city’s effectiveness at a time in which we are still recovering from the recession.
• Reduce the number of commissioners who represent you by 75 percent.
• Mean that only one out of up to 12 commissioners would care about your issues because you can only vote for that one person. Now they all care about you because they all represent you.
• Create boundaries, or “wards” within our city so candidates would only have to appeal to a few people to get elected.
• Allow the mayor to hide his or her position on important matters by not voting unless needed to break a tie.
I recommend all Nicholasville residents vote “No” on Nov. 6. Let’s keep what’s working and vote down wasteful big government and big cost.