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Batavia

Council reduction proposal stalls

No consensus among Batavia aldermen for making change

BATAVIA – City aldermen were unable to reach a consensus when discussing a proposal to reduce the size of the Batavia City Council.

At a committee meeting earlier this week, aldermen considered a plan put forth by 7th Ward Alderman Kyle Hohmann, who favors putting a referendum on the ballot to shrink the council to 10 members from the current total of 14.

But many aldermen said they believe there is no reason to make the change and that having 14 members ensures good representation for residents. The proposal was tabled.

“We really need a compelling reason, and I don’t think we’ve identified it,” 5th Ward Alderman Lucy Thelin Atac said.

Currently, the city is divided into seven wards, each represented by two aldermen.

Hohmann’s plan calls for four wards, each with two aldermen, as well as two council members elected at-large from anywhere in the city.

Each of the four wards would include a portion of the downtown, in contrast to the existing situation in which most of the central business district is within a single ward.

Hohmann noted that Batavia’s council is larger than other similarly sized communities. He contends that a group with more than 10 people is unwieldy and noted that aldermanic elections frequently produce uncontested races. 

City Attorney Roman Seckel told aldermen that they can place a referendum on the ballot or that a petition by residents could create a ballot question.

Another alternative would be to wait until the 2020 census, when aldermen could adjust the size of the council by ordinance, Seckel said.

Second Ward Alderman Martin Callahan, who indicated support for a referendum, said he wants the city to keep the ward system.

“If residents want to see this change, they should step up,” Callahan said.

Fourth Ward Alderman Susan Stark, 2nd Ward Alderman Alan Wolff and 7th Ward Alderman Dave Brown all expressed strong opposition to reducing the council’s size.

Brown said that if discussion is being inhibited by the council’s size, aldermen should return to the system of separate, smaller committees, rather than the existing committee of the whole in which all 14 aldermen participate.

Sixth Ward Alderman Michael Russotto said he does not believe a smaller council would result in more contested races.

First Ward Alderman Carl Fischer said there is no reason to change and, in particular, objected to an at-large system.

Seventh Ward Alderman Drew McFadden said the city should maintain the ward system.

Hohmann indicated after the meeting that he was pleased that the council had at least discussed his idea.

BATAVIA – City aldermen were unable to reach a consensus when discussing a proposal to reduce the size of the Batavia City Council.

At a committee meeting earlier this week, aldermen considered a plan put forth by 7th Ward Alderman Kyle Hohmann, who favors putting a referendum on the ballot to shrink the council to 10 members from the current total of 14.

But many aldermen said they believe there is no reason to make the change and that having 14 members ensures good representation for residents. The proposal was tabled.

“We really need a compelling reason, and I don’t think we’ve identified it,” 5th Ward Alderman Lucy Thelin Atac said.

Currently, the city is divided into seven wards, each represented by two aldermen.

Hohmann’s plan calls for four wards, each with two aldermen, as well as two council members elected at-large from anywhere in the city.

Each of the four wards would include a portion of the downtown, in contrast to the existing situation in which most of the central business district is within a single ward.

Hohmann noted that Batavia’s council is larger than other similarly sized communities. He contends that a group with more than 10 people is unwieldy and noted that aldermanic elections frequently produce uncontested races. 

City Attorney Roman Seckel told aldermen that they can place a referendum on the ballot or that a petition by residents could create a ballot question.

Another alternative would be to wait until the 2020 census, when aldermen could adjust the size of the council by ordinance, Seckel said.

Second Ward Alderman Martin Callahan, who indicated support for a referendum, said he wants the city to keep the ward system.

“If residents want to see this change, they should step up,” Callahan said.

Fourth Ward Alderman Susan Stark, 2nd Ward Alderman Alan Wolff and 7th Ward Alderman Dave Brown all expressed strong opposition to reducing the council’s size.

Brown said that if discussion is being inhibited by the council’s size, aldermen should return to the system of separate, smaller committees, rather than the existing committee of the whole in which all 14 aldermen participate.

Sixth Ward Alderman Michael Russotto said he does not believe a smaller council would result in more contested races.

First Ward Alderman Carl Fischer said there is no reason to change and, in particular, objected to an at-large system.

Seventh Ward Alderman Drew McFadden said the city should maintain the ward system.

Hohmann indicated after the meeting that he was pleased that the council had at least discussed his idea.

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