Roswell residents object to new mayor’s plan to change city charter

Mayor Kurt Wilson said the charter doesn’t distinguish whether the city administrator or the mayor has more authority and the lack of clarity can stifle carrying out city business. Courtesy Claire Bartlett

Credit: Lyda Video & Photo (678) 467-944

Credit: Lyda Video & Photo (678) 467-944

Mayor Kurt Wilson said the charter doesn’t distinguish whether the city administrator or the mayor has more authority and the lack of clarity can stifle carrying out city business. Courtesy Claire Bartlett

Roswell residents voiced opposition Monday to changes to the city charter that they say would grant the mayor too much power.

The public learned about the proposed changes when the city agenda was published late Friday afternoon. Many complained on social media.

During a Monday meeting, City Council decided to delay voting on a resolution for the changes that include granting Mayor Kurt Wilson direct authority over city departments and diminishing the power of City Administrator Randy Knighton. Council members plan to discuss the changes Tuesday during the administration committee meeting at 5 p.m.

If City Council were to vote in favor of changes to the city charter during a regular meeting, the resolution will be sent to the Georgia Legislature for approval.

During Monday’s meeting, Wilson said the charter doesn’t distinguish whether the city administrator or the mayor has more authority and the lack of clarity can stifle carrying out city business.

“That showed up as a real problem in the previous administration because neither party … had authority over the other,” he said.

During public comment at Monday’s meeting, residents criticized Wilson for bringing forth the measure six weeks into his first term and called for more transparency.

“It doesn’t seem fair, open and honest,” resident Tina Sloan said. “... Why do we need to change that charter. Fix what you came to fix. Do what you said you would do and don’t try to change our city.”

Resident Lisa Stamey told Wilson the suggested charter changes should’ve been brought up during his political campaign for office.

“...You’re going to slip through in the dead of night to change our charter,” Stamey said. “It just says that you didn’t care what any of us thought in November when we voted for you.”

Wilson said he first considered changes to the charter after taking office and said he should’ve allowed more time before Monday’s meeting to inform residents.

“I failed on that miserably with you,” Wilson told residents. “I’m asking for your ongoing trust ... My only ambition is to be a positive change agent in a very formidable way for this city along with this council.”

Wilson also considered trying to change how City Council vacancies are filled but issued a statement on Sunday saying he’d changed his mind and would not suggest that he be empowered with appointing someone instead of the city holding a special election.

“Cities spend an enormous amount of money on special elections,” Wilson said in his Sunday statement. “Taxpayers shouldn’t pay such a large sum for a single council seat.”

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