August Vote Could Eliminate Need For Runoff Elections
Changes suggested after costly December mayoral runoff race.
On Nov. 6, 2001, following a crowded field of candidates that resulted in Rob Berner being elected mayor with just 20 percent of the “yes” votes, Avon Lake electors opted to change the charter so that no mayoral candidate could be elected with less than a "50 percent plus one" vote. The issue won in a landslide with 81 percent of voters supporting a majority win.
Ten years later, the city faced a runoff election when none of the three candidates in a three-way November 2011 mayoral race earned 50 percent of the vote, forcing a December runoff election.
Runoff elections will be done away with if a proposed charter amendment passes in the August 2012 election asking voters if they would support a non-partisan Primary Election followed by a November General Election between the two top vote getters in the Primary Election.
Council reviewed the charter issue after the city realized expenses in excess of $25,000 to run the special Dec. 6 runoff election last year.
“We had three qualified candidates running in that election,” Councilman Dan Bucci, who is supporting the change, said. “Charter states the winning candidate had to have 50 percent plus one vote. That was unfortunate for a number of reasons.”
Bucci said the election was difficult on candidates as well as residents who were unaware there was a runoff. He also cited the financial impact on the city.
The charter change would apply to not only mayoral candidates but the four ward candidate races as well, providing there are three or more candidates in any of the races.
The top two vote getters in each race would face off in the General Election.
The three at-large representative seats would not be affected. The city’s charter says the top three vote getters in the at-large ward race win those seats.
The charter amendment itself requires a vote to allow for a change. The recommendation would most likely be on the August 2012 ballot alongside the Paramedic Levy issue.
“This is really good legislation,” Council President Martin O’Donnell said, noting that last year’s December runoff meant less time for the incoming mayor to prepare a budget and select an administration.
Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch said the proposed charter change did not affect the basic premise that the elected mayor still needed a majority vote, since a November election would still only have two candidates.