Cities Eye Shift in Election Dates

Several Tennessee town are considering moving their municipal elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, reports Rebecca Ferrar. There are at least 10 such towns in East Tennessee and some talk on the topic in Knoxville, where candidates for mayor are split on the shift, made possible to a law approved by the Legislature in 2009 that originated with Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville.
The idea is to put city elections on the same cycle as county, state or federal elections.
Proponents for the move argue that it would save cities money and increase voter turnout. Opponents counter that it would mix the city of Knoxville’s nonpartisan races into partisan elections; that the change could hurt local fundraising; and that larger elections – gubernatorial or presidential – would overwhelm the smaller city elections.
For smaller cities with a mayor and board of aldermen or city council, a bill passed the Legislature last year by state Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, would allow them to go to even-numbered-year elections by two readings of an ordinance. In Knoxville, however, the City Charter demands passage by City Council of an ordinance on two readings, then a charter change by referendum of the voters, said Charles Swanson, City Council attorney.

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