A vote among the council passed 3-2 at a council meeting Monday night. But changes in elections must be brought to the Legislature by the local delegation, and the delegation has historically only considered matters that have passed a unanimous vote among the local governing body requesting legislation.
“The local delegation’s rule is that it has to be a unanimous vote,” Holly Springs Mayor Tim Downing said.
Council members Michael Zenchuk and Kyle Whitaker voted against pursuing wards.
Downing proposed assigning specific geographic wards to council seats but continuing to elect each council member through a citywide vote.
Before the vote, Zenchuk questioned the need to move to a ward system.
“Right now, we’ve got a good representation of the city. The only area that’s not represented is the western side,” he said, voicing concerns about the cost and time needed to switch to a ward system. “There would be an expense for managing the ward process, and the time that goes into that.”
Downing said before the vote that moving to wards would allow the city council to be proactive.
“This would ensure that the city is represented completely. There’s the potential that the balance could move in any direction,” he said.
Whitaker said Tuesday that he didn’t feel there was a compelling reason to vote to move toward a ward system.
“There needs to be a compelling reason to make a change to the city charter, and I don’t believe there was any one reason compelling enough to move forward at this time. When the city grows, we may reach a point when it makes sense,” he said.
The city council also discussed changing the election cycle for one city council seat. Currently, three council seats are up for election at the same time as the mayor’s seat.
“We have talked about moving one council member to the midterm election,” Downing said.
To do so, the person in that seat would serve a two-year term after the 2016 election.
The election cycle change was voted on in conjunction with the ward proposal.