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Questions on ballots like whether or not to vote on amending charters/constitutions are often confusing and many folks simply don’t vote if they don’t feel informed. Please take a few moments to go to losalamosnm.us/projects/council/Pages/CRC.aspx to study these amendments yourselves. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to research this issue, it may be helpful for you to read what other people think about it, and if you trust that person, then perhaps you would feel comfortable voting based on the information that they pass along. Therefore, I will summarize why I will most definitely VOTE FOR all four Charter Ballot Amendments:
1. The charter has only had minor amendments since 1968-our community has changed a lot since then.
2. The Charter Review Committee is made up of a diverse group of active citizens who have participated in community affairs for many years. This committee has worked hundreds of hours and held dozens of public meetings for the past three years investigating and recommended these amendments to the council and to you. So they’ve done our homework for us!
3. These particular charter changes address Initiative, Referendum, Charter
Amendments, and Recall. Initiative and Referendum processes are sometimes called “citizen directed legislation.”
4. The proposed amendments simplify and clarify what is presently in place in the current Charter. The proposed petition processes would be consolidated in each section in the Charter making it easier for citizens to follow.
5. There are certain subject areas that are not eligible for the petition process (e.g. utility rates, budget items, and questions that are administrative or executive in nature, rather than legislative.) Under New Mexico law, these items are not eligible for citizen directed legislation.
Under the proposed amendment, the number of actions which are prohibited is NOT increased-only clarified so prospective petitioners will know in advance what is legal or illegal.
6. Initiative Petition TIME changes include: change from 180 days to 90 days for time to collect signatures on a proposed ordinance.
This is in line with Santa Fe - 90 days - and Albuquerque - 60 days. Referendum Petition percentage of required signatures: change from 10 to 15 percent.
Citizen Directed Legislation is used when the government is way off track-as a last resort, NOT as a routine method of governing. 15 percent is a modest increase to bring more balance between Citizen Directed Legislation and Representative Government. Santa Fe requires 33 1/3 percent and Albuquerque requires 20 percent of the votes cast.
7. It is my opinion that Citizen Directed Legislation and Representative Government are both important methods of governing. However, they DO NOT run parallel to each other and were never intended to do so.
Please vote YES to all four Charter Amendments.