Council to Consider Charter Change for Elected Officers

After a federal judge ruled earlier this year that eligibility requirements for elected officers in the city of Ann Arbor’s charter are not legally enforceable, the Ann Arbor city council will now start considering putting a charter amendment in front of voters for the Nov. 4, 2014 election.

The current charter language imposes one-year durational requirements on voter registration in the city and residency in the ward that a potential councilmember would like to represent. For mayor, the current requirement is simply a one-year durational requirement for voter registration in the city. That one year is calculated from the time an elected official takes office. The new requirements, which would need to be approved in a general voter referendum, would impose a voter registration requirement at the time paperwork is submitted to qualify for the ballot.

For example, a potential candidate for the city council  would need to be a registered voter in the ward they seek to represent at the time they submit their qualifying signatures to the city clerk. And a potential candidate for mayor would need to be a registered voter in the city at the time they submit their qualifying signatures to the city clerk. With paperwork for partisan primaries due in April – for November elections – the new requirements would translate practically speaking to something similar to a six-and-a-half-month durational requirement. For independent candidates, that timeframe would be closer to three and a half months. [.pdf of draft charter amendment for Nov. 4, 2014 ballot]

The resolution to place a charter amendment in front of voters had originally been intended for initial presentation at the council’s July 7, 2014 meeting, but was not ready by then. Instead, the council will take up the question at its July 14 21 meeting. According to information provided on the Michigan Secretary of State’s website, the council would have until Aug. 12, 2014 to meet the deadline for placing a question on the ballot. Before the deadline, the council has one additional meeting after July 21 – on Aug. 7.

On the council, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) has worked with city attorney staff to move the question forward.