It’s back to basics for a Brooklyn Center group pushing for a November ballot amendment asking residents if they want the mayor’s job to be full-time.
The city clerk this week disqualified a citizen-submitted petition for a full-time mayor, saying it did not meet the specifications set forth in state laws. The group now has 10 days to refile a properly formatted petition and have the signatures of registered voters verified.
“It was all wrong,” said City Clerk Barb Suciu, who informed the group in a letter Thursday. “They will have to start over.
Specifically, the names of the five petitioners did not appear on the 145 pages of signatures submitted to the city. The petition also lacked a notarized affidavit on every page, and neither the full text of the proposed amendment nor a city-approved summary advising those who signed the petition how the city government would change were included. The petition only included a generic statement.
“Each of these elements alone requires me to find that the petition is insufficient under the laws of the State of Minnesota,” Suciu wrote. “The petition is not properly attested and all petition pages are invalid.”
The city’s charter commission had raised concerns that the petition did not include a sufficiently detailed summary when it was first submitted on July 12.
“They were on notice that there were concerns,” commission spokesman Steve Landis said. “They weren’t taken to heart.”
Although concerns remain, the commission, under threat of a citizens’ lawsuit for a full-time mayor, forwarded the petition to the city clerk after a July 26 meeting, Landis said.
Citizens for a full-time mayor collected 1,103 signatures, well above the 886 needed to put an amendment on the ballot. State law requires that the number of signatures be equal to 5% of the total votes cast in the state’s last general election.
But two municipal teams that reviewed the signatures simultaneously could only validate 622 and 628 signatures. Although these are not the final certified figures, even if the signatures had been collected on a valid form with proper attestation and the required information, “it seems clear that the petition did not have the required number of valid signatures “, Suciu wrote.
Joe Mason, spokesperson for Citizens For a Full-Time Mayor, said the group consulted with the city clerk before collecting signatures to ensure the petition complied with state laws.
“We are shocked that the same person declares the petition insufficient,” Mason said. “We remain steadfast in our resolve to ensure the voices of Brooklyn Center voters are heard on this important issue.”
Under Brooklyn Center’s current government structure, the city council oversees the city manager, who is responsible for running the city. The proposed change would make the mayor a full-time position and include responsibilities such as proposing the city’s budget and overseeing departments — duties that currently fall to Brooklyn Center City Manager Reggie Edwards.
Edwards is the city’s highest-paid employee with a salary of $155,000, according to a city document posted online.
Mayor Mike Elliott, who is up for re-election this year, gets just over $13,000. Elliott said he favors the idea of a full-time mayor. But two challengers, including board member April Graves, oppose the idea. Another citizens’ group, BC Mayor Facts, has banded together to fight the proposed change to the city’s charter.
Brooklyn Center, which the US Census Bureau says has a population of about 32,000, is considered a “self-governing charter city,” meaning citizens can adopt any form of government and change the charter.
If a new petition is submitted by the August 15 deadline, the city would have five days to certify it and send it to city council to draft language to appear on the November ballot.
This action must be completed by August 26.
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