Ballot question veto underscores need for initiative

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana’s veto of the City Council ballot question in the November election that could start wheels turning toward a change in the form of government underscores precisely why the change needs to be considered.

Council’s recent action – and it’s subsequent override Thursday night of the mayor’s veto – does not mean the city’s form of government is going to change.

It doesn’t mean it is changing from the strong-mayor form to a council-manager setup.

It doesn’t mean anything is going to change.

It doesn’t mean anything is going to change during the mayor’s term, his third.

All it means is Williamsport residents can vote in November whether they want to appoint a charter commission to study the prospects of a different form of government for the city. That’s what the mayor vetoed – the mere consideration by voters of appointing a group to study the idea.

The mayor called that a “power grab for City Council to rule the city without checks and balances.”

Given challenges that have emerged in the past few decades since the city went to the strong mayor form of government and the challenges that loom in the future, we would call this consideration of a change prudent action.

The city’s challenges of the future won’t be solved if the most fundamental questions of efficiency can’t be addressed without a war between the mayor and council.

Council’s job — and the mayor should share that responsibility – is to find the best solutions and most efficient procedures to operate the city in a way that benefits the most residents.

We need this ballot question answered by voters. And we need residents to inform council of whatever desires they have for future governing of the City of Williamsport.

That’s not a power grab. That’s practical thinking.

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