REVIEWING GOVERNING: Home rule proponents tout its flexibility

Introduced a bit late in the year, the home rule supporters in the city believe in less government oversight and more power given to the people.

If voters choose, the government study commission looking at Home Rule Law could take up to 18 months and hold town halls, according to Alison D. Hirsch, a proponent and candidate for government study commissioner.

“We felt the people have a right to choose their government, not the state,” she said. “Home rule allows for Williamsport to operate independently of the state and to be more flexible.”

Ed Fosnaught of the Governor’s Center for Local Government Policy said he believes 17 of the 53 or so third class cities voted for home rule.

This form of government can be a combination of strong mayor-council, manager-council, commission or weak mayor-council, Fosnaught said.

Essentially, as a definition, “Home rule allows us to explore all forms of government available under the law,” Hirsch said.

“It gives the people the ability to construct their own constitution with a taxpayers bill of rights, a citizens bill of rights — with built-in, non-discrimination policies for citizens,” Noviello said.

“Home rule allows us to explore all forms of government available under the law,” said Matilda Noviello, a Democratic candidate for council and a candidate for government study commissioner.

“If council passes an ordinance under home rule, citizens can recall a public official, a process that starts with circulating a petition to get names,” she said.

Both women expressed puzzlement by council supporting a ballot question on charter law, which was developed in 1957.

“That only gives limited options,” Hirsch said. With home rule, the residents are allowed to contribute ideas and introduce ordinances for consideration, so long as nothing violates state law, she said, adding there likely will be more town halls and deliberations.

“Home rule gives the city the flexibility to mix and match elements of the different forms and come up with new solutions to make city government more efficient and responsive,” Hirsch said.

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