Other Voices

Fort Worth should vote against city charter Propositions 1-4

The Fort Worth City Council placed charter amendments on the May 7 ballot for voter consideration.
The Fort Worth City Council placed charter amendments on the May 7 ballot for voter consideration. Star-Telegram

The people of Fort Worth can vote on 11 proposed changes to our city charter on May 7 or during early voting, which starts Monday and runs through May 3.

The charter, originally approved in 1924, establishes rules for our council/city manager home-rule government.

I encourage Fort Worth to vote against Propositions 1 through 4, as they would limit the people’s voice, their right to vote and their effective representation.

Proposition 1 would increase the terms of City Council members from the current two years to three. Vote against Proposition 1 to protect the right of voters to affect change at the ballot box.

Council members should not be afraid to be held accountable every two years.

Proposition 2 would increase the number of seats on the council from the current nine (mayor and eight council members) to 11 (the mayor and 10 council members).

Vote against Proposition 2 to ensure Fort Worth doesn’t go the way of other large cities with bloated and divisive city councils and their accompanying bureaucracy.

Following every census, council districts are reviewed and district lines are modified to have fair and proportionate representation in accordance with applicable law.

Based on 2010 census data, Fort Worth’s council districts represent about 95,000 residents. By comparison, state representatives serve around 170,000 residents.

There is no magic constituency threshold that equates to effective and responsive representation.

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and experienced city administrators and scholars like Roger Kemp have extensively researched council composition and public policy based on segments like council size, terms and compensation.

Studies confirm that larger city councils elected by districts do not increase diversity or enhance positive public policy.

There is even a positive relationship between greater minority representation and larger-constituency districts in U.S. cities with populations above 25,000.

Fort Worth must fund priorities like hiring more first responders and improving our infrastructure — not growing the council size and spending millions more on council administration and bureaucracy.

Proposition 3 would increase the annual compensation of City Council members from $25,000 to $45,000 and of the mayor from $29,000 to $60,000. Vote against Proposition 3 to maintain a council of citizen representatives.

Council members are public servants who should serve because of their commitment to our city rather than salary. An alternative charter change could be to adjust compensation with inflation.

Proposition 4 would authorize the City Council to appoint someone to fill a council vacancy and its unexpired term without an election. Vote against Proposition 4 to defend your right to elect who represents you.

A council-appointed incumbent would have an unfair advantage over other candidates in the eventual regular election. The council should support democratic elections when vacancies occur.

Fort Worth has grown to be the nation’s 16th largest city while maintaining our small-town feel, greatly due to our charter’s council/city manager government and because council members work together for the good of the entire city and their individual districts.

Why limit the voice of voters, their ability to elect their council members and their effective representation?

Fort Worth should vote against Propositions 1 through 4.

Jungus Jordan represents District 6 in south and southwest Fort Worth on the City Council.