Signatures are still needed for a petition that could give voters another opportunity to decide whether they want a three commissioners or seven magistrates to compose the Clark County Fiscal Court.
Concerned citizens, including former magistrates Pam Blackburn, Billy Edwards and Joe McCord, met at the Winchester Elks Lodge to count signatures already collected and discuss plans for raising public awareness about the issue.
So far, about 650 people have signed the petition. State law requires 1,200 signatures by Aug. 14 for the measure to be placed on the ballot.
A petition that circulated in 2006 placed the issue on the ballot for the first time, and voters chose to change the fiscal court format.
However, the petitioners argue that many people were unclear what they were voting for, or missed the issue on the ballot altogether.
“We are truly the roots of grass roots. We’ve got to get back to the roots. This is our representation,” Edwards said.
Having served on the court from 1990 to 1994, representing rural Clark County, including Trapp, Edwards said he knows firsthand the importance of equal representation for the community.
Most present at the meeting said they believe the current fiscal court is doing a good job, but it is impossible for three people to truly represent all of Clark County.
“It’s got to change,” Blackburn said.
If the issue does make the ballot in November, and the court reverts to the old format, Blackburn said she would consider running for magistrate again. Blackburn represented the old District 5 from 2003 to 2010, losing her seat when the court downsized.
Proponents of the old system also argue that it allows a more diverse group of people to serve on the court. Blackburn said the new system means candidates have to campaign over a much larger area, spending more time and money, something that would effectively eliminate potential candidates with low incomes.
Edwards said the three-commissioner format may save the county money, but the savings are not worth the loss in representation.
“Look at it as a percentage of the overall budget,” Edwards said.
Contact Rachel Gilliam at firstname.lastname@example.org.