Charter amendments bring big changes

Memphis voters passed all eight charter amendments in last Tuesday's election, bringing sweeping changes to how the city runs our government.

Amendment 1 passed, and now the Memphis City Council will stagger terms so the council doesn't lose so many experienced members all at one time.

"When you combine term limits with staggered terms, that's going to bring about an orderly transition and flow of government officials," said charter commission chairman Myron Lowry.

Voters also said "yes" to limiting elected officials to two consecutive four-year terms.

"I think people get stale in office after a while," said councilman Bill Boyd. "They get too comfortable, and they forget maybe who sent them there."
And it's now law that if the mayor resigns, the council chairman will step in as acting mayor.
Amendment 4 says that city officials can now be suspended with pay if they're charged with official misconduct.

"If it helps restore trust in the government, I think it's a very positive thing," said councilman Shea Flinn
And the passing of Amendment 5 means that MLGW cannot be sold without voter approval.

"It gives the citizens a comfort level that they would have to make a decision as to whether MLGW would be sold," said council member Barbara Ware.
Voters also approved instant runoffs to save money by eliminating the need to pay for special elections. But that won't happen soon because the election commission doesn't yet have instant runoff software.
Amendment 7 imposes a residency rule. Now, all appointed city employees must live within city limits.

"I think we have to look at, specifically with police officers, whether or not we need the residency requirements, or whether we need the boots on the ground more," said Flynn.

And voters approved Amendment 8, which allows citizens to recall city council members.
"The recall provision allows for citizens to recall members of the City Council just like we can recall the mayor," said Lowry.

to email Kontji Anthony.