JOPLIN, MO.--- Members of Joplin's Charter Review Commission hear from residents during their first public hearing. Tonight, commission members listened to four people expressing their opinions about whether or not the mayor should be elected by public vote. Others in the crowd who didn't speak say they chose to come tonight to keep up with the politics in the city. More than a dozen Joplin residents, businessmen and current council members attended the first Charter Review Commission public hearing.
"I really do care about how things are formed and proceed in our community, especially as we start rebuilding and our community just continues to develop," said Ryan Jackson, Joplin Citizen.
Four attendees spoke to the commission directly, while others decided to listen and become an educated voter.
"I wanted to hear what other people are thinking and see why they were thinking that," said Bernice Robinson, Joplin Citizen.
The first meeting focused solely around the mayoral position. The current charter, created in 1954, says once residents elect a city council, it's up to the members to decide who will be mayor. Two months ago, Councilman Morris Glaze suggested that be changed, claiming 9 out of 10 residents often tell him they want to vote for the mayor themselves. An idea some people we spoke to echoed.
"I think the people should elect the mayor, and then he should serve very much like the vice president does in the Senate. He presides over and sets the agenda," said Harvey Hutchinson, Joplin Citizen.
"Different people have different ideas. I think the younger community really does believe that the mayor should be elected by them. And it should be their voice, and not the voice of the constituents," said Jackson.
Others think the current system works and should not be changed.
"It seems redundant at this point, if we're electing people we trust for the council, they should also serve as the mayor," said Robinson.
The Commission will consider each testimony before making recommendations to city leaders. They will then decide if those suggestions need to go to a public vote.
"I really hope we have some changes that are productive for the community," said Jackson.
"We have a lot going on in the city and I'd hate to see us focusing on something that might cause some division," said Robinson.
Commission members say it's important to hear from as many people as possible since only a public vote can change the city's charter. The panel will hold two more public hearings addressing proposed city council and city staff changes. Those meetings will be November 12th and 13th at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.
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