New London cure? – Something old and something new: Strong Mayor and Instant Runoff Voting?

TheDay:  Strong mayor idea gets revived <read>

For the third time in the past decade, the strong mayor question is back, but there are also new questions on how New London should potentially choose its first elected chief executive since the 1920s.

In an “informal” meeting with the City Council Monday, the Charter Revision Commission reintroduced the change to a strong mayor form of government with broad powers that could be on the November ballot.

The change to a strong mayor form of government was twice defeated at the polls, in 2006 and again in 2008, due to technicalities in voter turnout, and what some thought was a complicated ballot question.

Some councilors expressed concern Monday that a new twist the commission plans to add to the potential election of a mayor could doom this attempt.

The commission plans to recommend to the City Council a strong mayor that would be elected by instant-runoff vote, if the first-place candidate does not receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

Voters would rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference.

If there is not a winner with a 50 percent majority, the last place candidate would then be eliminated and have their second place votes distributed to the remaining candidates.

The process would continue until there is a clear majority winner.

Commission member Steven Skrabacz said the ranking vote system would open the mayoralty to third-party candidates and ensure the mayor would not be elected with a minority vote.

But more than one councilor found the system, which according to the commission is not used by any Connecticut town, to be perplexing.

“That could be something that confuses people,” Councilor Michael Buscetto III said.

Councilor Michael Passero, who called the city manager form of government “a failed experiment” said the strong mayor should be presented to voters with the least amount of changes and supported keeping the traditional voting method.

The commission also plans to keep the City Council at seven members, but have four of them elected from four new voting wards and create three at-large seats.

The voting wards would be drawn according to population not according to number of electors, as is the current system.

The charter commission process will includes a public hearing. The council must approve the ballot questions by the first week of September in order to be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot.

We don’t know enough about the operation of New London to know if a strong mayor or council manager form of government would work best, but we note a tendency for people, when they are dissatisfied with their government or the results of the last election to try any cure that sounds like it would help.  Something akin to “fighting the last war”.

As readers of CTVotersCount are aware, we have concerns with Instant Runoff Voting. It sounds good on the surface, yet there are unintended consequences.  Councilor Buscetto has hit on one of our three main concerns:  it is confusing for voters.   Read more of our concerns and the story of IRV’s rollback in our neighbor to the north: <read>


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