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Editorial: Compromise for runoffs

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By The Staff

The Las Vegas City Council has accepted a proposed new city charter from the Charter Commission, but the council may make some changes to the document before it’s submitted to voters, likely in the March 2 municipal election. The existing charter, which is essentially the city’s constitution, has been in force for nearly four decades and needs updating.

The commission performed well in its duty in come up with a better charter. The members decided to keep what works and change what doesn’t.

Among the high points of the new document:

• The City Council has a formal role in the selection of city managers and other top officials. No more surprises from the mayor.

• The process for hiring and firing of city managers and other top officials is spelled out in detail. This will likely reduce backroom politics.

• A police oversight commission is created. This panel, among other duties, would review complaints regarding police activity.

• Rules for conflicts of interest and ethics are set out.

In receiving the proposed charter, the City Council had much good to say. But council members Morris Madrid said he didn’t like one of its provisions, the instant runoff election. Under such a system, the city would allow voters to rank the candidates in order of their preferences. After counting the ballots, if no candidates receives a majority cast, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated. Each ballot would be tallied again for that office counting the vote from each ballot for the highest ranked candidate who has not been eliminated. This process would continue until a candidate receives majority support.

Madrid and the others agree that some type of runoff is needed because all but one of the council members was elected with less than a majority of the vote. But Madrid, with the backing of Councilman Cruz Roybal, pointed out that an instant runoff would be too convoluted. A followup runoff election would be simpler for everyone concerned, and as a result, it would be clear who voters wanted, Madrid said. On the other hand, an instant runoff election would be cheaper because it wouldn’t require another election.

Both runoff ideas would basically achieve the same goal, making sure our elected officials have the backing of most voters. Because both Roybal and Madrid support a runoff election, their ally, Mayor Tony Marquez, would likely jump aboard their bandwagon, as politics and personalities would dictate, That means a majority of the council will probably back the separate election.

As such, the council needs to compromise and go with a runoff election. In so doing, the proposed charter, a big improvement over the existing one, would go before voters March 2.