Marion to vote in November on council election changes

Residents could decide to change how ward members are elected

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MARION — The city’s voters will be asked on the November ballot to change the way they elect some Marion City Council members.

The council unanimously voted Thursday to put a measure before voters on whether four of the seven council members should be decided by voters within districts — or wards, as the city calls them.

As it stands now, four of the council members must come from within designated wards, but voters anywhere in the city may vote for or against them.

At its Aug. 4 meeting, council members directed staff to draft language that could be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot, asking voters to decide whether they want to change the city’s charter to allow it.

Residents Charles Knudsen and Mike Tope also obtained 575 signatures for a petition to change the process.

Tope said they got the idea when two candidates for council in the last two elections won the majority of votes from within their own ward, but lost citywide.

“If we can get 575 signatures in 17 days, that says this is a meaningful issue for Marion,” Knudsen said.

Council member Joe Spinks, who was initially against the change, said the petition and council discussion show the issue warrants a vote.

“That says people are interested in this,” Spinks said.

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