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Committee discusses possible changes at Joplin's city hall - KOAM TV 7

Committee discusses possible changes at Joplin's city hall

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A committee meets in Joplin to discuss possible changes at city hall.  The proposals mainly cover how city council members function.  One idea would change how the mayor is elected.

Joplin's Charter Review Commission is made up of volunteers, as well as former city mayors and council members.  Commission members say the commission was formed because some current city council members have concerns they want addressed.

Keenen Cortez is among eight others who will review Joplin's charter.

"I think there's some items that we need to look at that may need to be reviewed, or updated, or adjusted, so that we can make sure we're keeping up as times are changing," says Cortez.

First up, a proposal to have each council member represent the city at large, instead of a zone.

"I need some new street lights in my neighborhood," says Cortez.  "I don't know if my zone council member knows that, or even if they did, what ability they would have to carry it to the council or the powers that be to make any changes."

We headed to a gym for people to exercise their right of opinion.

"Sometimes, you can't get a hold of the councilman in your area.  So yeah, I think you should be able to talk to any of the council members," says David Guilford, a Joplin resident.

There's also an idea to limit the number of terms served by a council member.

"I used to be a big guy on term limits," says Joplin resident Steve Hunter.  "But not anymore.  Unless they're long enough so that everybody has a chance to understand what that job is all about."

One proposal in particular that seems to be getting a lot of attention from people is changing the way the mayor is elected.  Right now, city council members vote among themselves for who is going to be mayor.  The proposal calls for a direct election.  Constituents would choose who is going to be mayor, regardless of whether that person is a current city council member or not.

"I think the people need to elect the officials," says Guilford.

Joplin has come on the national scene recently with the tornado in 2011.  And the mayor has had a great deal of opportunity to travel the nation and give the experiences that we've had in Joplin to other communities that are facing disasters.  I think it's going to be very important, that as a community, we put the best person forward to do that for us in the future," says Cortez.

No matter what possible changes at city hall, Cortez hopes politics won't get in the way of politics.

Another proposal calls for increasing council members' pay from 5 dollars a meeting to 100 dollars a month.  Both Cortez and many others say this would make the job more enticing.

There's also a motion to have the city council be in charge of the police chief, instead of the city manager over the chief.  The city clerk would be placed under the authority of the city manager.  Click the associated video to hear how Cortez feels about this proposal.

Committee members expect to meet several times before sending their recommendations to city council.

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