Staggered terms for County Council on ballot

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By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Council has approved an ordinance for consideration that would stagger the terms of the Council members over the next two election cycles. The ordinance, approving the staggering of the terms, will appear on the ballot at next week’s general election, as required by state law.

County Attorney Leon Harmon explained that this year’s election cycle includes the legal conditions necessary for the consideration of the ordinance by the general public. There are several conditions established by the General Assembly for such a change to be voted on, one way or the other, by the public.”

“First of all, the terms of the council members must be set at two years, which they are in Anderson County at this time. Then, the Council must pass the ordinance,to allow it to appear on the ballot as a referendum. The current Council has passed that ordinance, and the election is a general election, satisfying those conditions as well.”

If the proposed ordinance passes at referendum, the state law calls for one half of the existing seats plus one additional seat (or a majority) to revert to a four year term immediately. Those four seats will be determined by the four highest vote getters in the general election for their Council seats, regardless of the district involved. The three Council seats receiving the lowest number of votes will serve a two year term.

The actual wording of the appropriate state law appears below.

In any county in which terms of county council members are for two years only, the council may by ordinance change such terms to four-year staggered terms but such ordinance shall not become effective until approved by a favorable vote of the qualified electors of the county voting in a referendum conducted for that purpose. In the event the referendum is conducted at the time of the general election in which council members are elected, and the vote is favorable on the ordinance, the terms of council members shall automatically be changed to four-year terms except that of those elected in that general election one half plus one of such members who receive the highest vote shall serve four-year terms and the remaining members elected shall serve terms of two years only.