Wyoming Liberty Group
When Cheyenne voters rejected the city administrator proposal last fall, they reaffirmed their commitment to vote responsibly and placed a special emphasis on this year’s mayoral elections. Those same voters must now examine each candidate and vote for who is best-equipped to do the day-to-day job of managing the city. It is never an easy job, and the fact that ten people filed applications for mayor makes vetting the candidates even more difficult.
Boyd Wiggam and Glenn Woods of Boldrepublic.com discuss the recent effort by Wyoming legislative leadership to limit access for to research and information from the Legislative Service Office other members of the legislature.
James Madison warned us in Federalist #10 of the violence “a number citizens who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens” can do to liberty. 3,368 voters in Casper just illustrated his point by neglecting to perform their civic duty to stand up for the rights of a vulnerable minority during the City of Casper’s Smoking Referendum Special Election on November 3.
On November 10th in a Special Election Cheyenne’s voters will decide whether to transfer executive power from their elected mayor to an administrator working for the City Council. Beyond the details of the proposal, Cheyenne voters must answer a bigger question: Do voters believe that elections work?
This question is about whether the American experiment of representative government, fought so hard for by America’s founding generation, has worked. Cheyenne’s voters are asked to revisit the foundational questions of how to organize governmental power, of which Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison wrestled with so thoroughly in the early years of our republic.
The Cheyenne City Council made some important changes to the proposed City Administrator Charter Ordinance before sending the whole question to Cheyenne’s voters. However, even those improvements are not enough to cure the fundamental ills that plague the council’s the City Administrator proposal. The City Administrator proposal will still undermine the power of citizens over city government if it passes in November 10’s special election.
Our founding Fathers understood the importance of an independent executive branch of government. The Cheyenne City Council however, is preparing to ask citizens to vote on a City Charter amendment that would create an appointed administrator to replace the independent, strong mayor for most executive functions. The appointed City Administrator would answer to the City Council—not directly to the voters. This would concentrate almost all the power of local government into the legislative branch and lessen the accountability of government to the people. The City Council is barreling ahead with a special election to ram this change through, but citizens still have time to fix the proposed charter amendment or defeat the power grab entirely. Sheridan’s citizens were not so fortunate earlier this year when the Sheridan City Council decided to start the process to create a City Administrator position without a special election.
Two news stories about elections and voting rights emerged in the press over the Thanksgiving weekend. One story is about the future of direct elections right here in Wyoming. The other story came from Hong Kong, where pro-democracy demonstrators have been protesting for the right to directly elect the Chief Executive by universal suffrage since September 2014. This demand for free leadership elections sounds familiar to all Americans, whose founding fathers also wisely included protections against the tyranny of the majority in the republic they established. It is also instructive for Wyoming residents who may be asked to surrender the right to vote for the chief state education executive.