JONESVILLE — When they go to the polls in November the residents of the Town of Jonesville will vote on whether or not to change their form of government.
In a special meeting Friday morning at the Jonesville Municipal Complex, the members of the Jonesville Town Council voted 3-1 to approve an ordinance placing a referendum on changing the town’s form of government on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
The ordinance states that the referendum will ask voters in the town to vote yes or no on the following question:
“Shall the municipality of Jonesville change its form of government from the mayor-council form to the council form?”
The motion to approve the ordinance was made by Councilman Danny Gregory who said that if voters approve the referendum, the council would gain increased authority over the operations of the town’s government.
“We (council) will be over everything,” Gregory said. “We’ll be over the police department, the water department, the street department, and the administrative department.”
Gregory said council’s decision to seek a change in the form of government should not be seen as a criticism of Mayor Ernest Moore, but is part of council’s desire to better reflect the will of the people of Jonesville.
“We think it is time to make a change in the town,” Gregory said. “We think we can do a little better.
“Right now he (the mayor) has more authority than anybody,” he said. “Since we (council) were voted on by the people we think we should have some say in what goes on in the town.”
The motion was seconded by Councilman Danny Horlacher who said council’s decision to seek a change in the town’s form of government is about how the town should be run.
“The council by majority should be running the town,” Horlacher said. “It’s nothing against the mayor, it’s just about how the town is run and each councilman having his own responsibility.
Councilman John Fowler joined Gregory and Horlacher in voting for the ordinance with Councilman Ronald Young opposed.
Moore was present for Friday’s meeting but did not vote because under the mayor-council form of government the mayor, as presiding officer, does not vote except in the event of a tie.
Shortly after the meeting, Moore said the move to change the form of government grew out of his exercising his authority as mayor under the strong mayor system.
“When I came in to office I found that the councilmen were each over the town departments which is not allowed under the strong mayor,” Moore said. “When you find you’re doing things wrong it should be corrected and I corrected it. Once I did they decided they wanted to have their say over the employees but under strong mayor council only has say over the clerk, the city attorney, and the municipal judge.”
Moore said that as a result this members of council decided to seek a change in form of town government from mayor-council or strong mayor to council or weak mayor.
According to the SC Municipal Association website, the mayor-council form of government is used by 145 of South Carolina’s 270 municipalities.
It states that the mayor-council form of government is “often called the strong mayor form because the mayor is granted by state law the right to exercise legislative as well as executive and administrative authority.”
Under the mayor-council form of government the mayor, as designated by state statute serves presiding officer at council meetings and is also chief administrative officer for the municipality. As chief administrative officer the mayor is responsible for:
• The preparation, administration and reporting of the budget and financials to council.
• Oversight of municipal departments and all day to day operations.
• All personnel decisions except as otherwise provided by law and council.
The mayor also:
• Votes as a member of council
• Presides over meetings of council
• Makes annual financial reports to public and council
• Reports to council on the operations of departments
• May hire, with council’s approval, an administrator to assist them.
• Insures faithful execution of the laws.
Under the mayor-council form of government, the municipal council:
• Serves as the municipality’s legislative body
• Determines policy for the municipality
• Appoints the municipal attorney, judge, and clerk
• Approves the municipality’s annual budget
The SC Municipal Association website states that the council form of government is used by 93 of South Carolina’s 270 municipalities.
It states that the council form is “sometimes called the weak mayor form which refers to the mayor’s lack of formal executive authority” and is “often called governance by committee because of shared powers.” This is due to the fact that there is “no separation of powers between the executive and the legislative functions.”
Under the council form of government the council:
• Exercises all legislative and administrative functions.
• Establishes all departments and agencies of the municipal government.
• Appoints the city clerk, attorney, judge and all employees.
• May hire an administrator whose duties should be defined by ordinance of council.
• Is responsible for adopting a balanced operating budget.
Under the council form of government the mayor:
• Performs administrative duties only if authorized by council.
• Presides at meetings of council by tradition, not statutory authority.
• May exercise “informal” authority as leader of council/staff and as spokesperson for the council.
Under the council form of government the chief administrative officer, if appointed by council, is called an administrator. The authority of the administrator varies from council to council and their powers is limited “to those specifically delegated and prescribed by council.”
Council met Friday to approve second and final reading because the deadline for filing for the November general election was at noon.
Union County Election Commission Chairman Keith Vanderford said Friday afternoon that the referendum was filed prior to the noon deadline and will be on the ballot in Jonesville in November.
In addition to the referendum in Jonesville, the November ballot includes a number of nonpartisan races including five seats on the Union County Board of School Trustees; a total of 12 seats on the boards of four fire districts; two seats on the Browns Creek Watershed; three seats on Union City Council; and two seats on the Carlisle Town Council.
Vanderford said that as of the close of filing, candidates had filed to run for all of the seats except for two on the Santuc Fire District Board and one in the Town of Carlisle.
Seats for Union County Board of School Trustees Districts 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 will be on the November ballot.The seats are currently held by trustees Kim Bailey (District 3), Buck Peay (District 4), Jane H. Hammett (District 5), Wanda R. All (District 8), and Jane Wilkes (District 9).
Vanderford said that the following candidates have filed to run for the following seats on the school board:
• Kim Bailey — District 3
• Mike Massey — District 3
• Jeremy Donnell Robinson — District 4
• Gene “Doc” Lipsey — District 4
• Trad Robinson — District 4
• Jane Hart Hammett — District 5
• Wanda R. All — District 8
• Jane R. Wilkes — District 9
• Jessica Childers Sherbert — District 9
The November general election ballot will also include seats on the boards of the Monarch, Southside, Santuc and Jonesville fire districts. The Monarch Fire District and Santuc Fire District each have two seats on the ballot while the Jonesville Fire District has three seats, and the Southside Fire District has five.
Vanderford said that as of the close of filing the following candidates had filed to run for seats on the following fire boards:
• Thomas H. Ivey — Jonesville Fire District Board
• Cam Robinson (incumbent) — Jonesville Fire District Board
• Harold Dean Robinson Jr. (incumbent) — Jonesville Fire District Board
• Claude “Tommy” Hart Jr. (incumbent) — Monarch Fire District Board
• Phillip Crane (incumbent) — Monarch Fire District Board
• Buford Brown (incumbent) — Southside Fire District Board
• Phil Moore (inumbent) — Southside Fire District Board
• Jimmy Mark Smith — Southside Fire District Board
• Russell Trammell — Southside Fire District Board
• Larry Yarborough — Southside Fire District Board
Vanderford said that no one filed to run for the two seats on the Santuc Fire District Board. This means the seats will be filled based on write-in votes.
Brown’s Creek Watershed
Two seats on the board of the Brown’s Creek Watershed will also be on the November ballot. Those seats are currently held by Mike Scales and Evelyn Alman, and both of those incumbents have filed for re-election.
City of Union
In the City of Union the November general election ballot will include the District 1, 2, and 5 seats on the Union City Council. The seats are currently held by council members Tommy Hill (District 1), Robert Garner (District 2), and Orangelow Ruff (District 5).
Vanderford said that as of the close of filing the following had filed to run for city council:
• Tommy Anthony — District 1
• Tommy Hill — District 1
• Don Shetley — District 1
• Tyra Katrina Parham — District 1
• Robert Earl Garner — District 2
• Pamela Garner Sloss — District 5
• Brandy Erwin — District 5
Town of Carlisle
In the Town of Carlisle there are two seats on the Carlisle Town Council on the November ballot, but Vanderford said only one candidate had filed to run as of the close of filing.
The seats are currently held by councilmen John Glenn and Gregory Shorter, but Vanderford said that only Glenn had filed to run.
Vanderford said the remaining seat will have to be filled by write-in votes.