Editorial: Vote for the charter

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By The Staff

During this election cycle, we’re not planning to endorse any of the candidates for Las Vegas mayor and council. Throwing our viewpoint into the mix just doesn’t seem necessary this time around. As for the proposed charter, however, we’re compelled to speak up, in the interest of good government.

Next Tuesday, the document will be rejected or approved by the voters — and we urge its passage. It would replace the current charter, which was created after the two Las Vegases voted to become a single city in 1968. This document, which serves as the city constitution, has served us well, but it’s  overdue for an overhaul.

The proposed new charter was drafted by a 10-member commission over the course of several months and placed before the voters by a City Council vote. It contains several changes, including runoff elections, a four-year term for mayor, a set-in-stone salary for mayor and council and about a dozen other significant changes.

We’d be hard pressed to say we wholeheartedly agree with every provision in the proposed charter — in fact, few people would be able to embrace it in its entirety. But overall, it is such a dramatic improvement that we enthusiastically embrace it as a huge step in the right direction. Runoffs, for example, are desperately needed to ensure that the voters’ will is imposed in every municipal election system. And the provisions that are intended to create greater stability in the position of city manager — requiring a contract, establishing a residency requirement, strengthening the city manager’s authority at City Hall — should improve the city’s effectiveness at getting the job done to the benefit of the citizenry.

Other provisions, including the establishment of a campaign and ethics board, the disclosure of conflicts of interest by mayor and councilors, and prohibitions on gifts of value to elected officials, will serve to advance responsible and ethical governance. And there are changes that will give citizens more powers, such as the right to place matters up for referendum or initiative and to petition for the recall of elected officials.

The bottom line is that the proposed charter will go a long way toward improving the process used to elect our mayor and council and, once they are in office, it will hold them more accountable. We commend the commission members who worked so hard on this — they have presented the city with a solid document — and we urge its approval. In doing so, you will be helping to ensure a better City Hall in the months and years to come.