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Sheridan's Special Election Upholds City Administrator Updates

Catherine Wheeler

Sheridan residents have voted to uphold the new law that seeks to update the responsibilities of the city administrator.

After the city council passed the new law in July, it was challenged by a citizen petition. The petition had the required 642 signatures to trigger an election.

The new law, Charter Ordinance 2202, outlines that the mayor serves as the chief executive. The city administrator handles the day-to-day operations. It's the administrator who can order city staff to do things, while the mayor has oversight authority and sets the city council agenda. It's an update to the 2015 law that established the city administrator position.

Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller has voiced his opposition to the administrator position, saying it takes away power from the mayor to effectively govern the city the way a mayor should.

More than 2,500 city residents voted in the November 5 election. The results posted to the city's website show that the new ordinance narrowly passed by 79 votes. Sheridan City Clerk Cecilia Good said the slim margin required a recount on Wednesday morning.

"We determined, based off state statute, we had to reject some of the ballots that had originally been counted in the main canvas," she said.

Some ballots did not have election judges' signatures and had to be discarded, said Sheridan City Councilman Aaron Liden, who was at the ballot recount on Wednesday.

The Sheridan city administrator position has been a point of contention in the city for some years, even before the city council created it back in 2015. The city had a special election in February 2008 on the topic of a city administrator position. Residents voted against the role.

Opponents to the position thought a no vote for Charter Ordinance 2202 would send a message to the city council that the role isn't needed in Sheridan and would make the City Council consider if the position is right for the city.

Good said the next step is the outcome's certification by the Council.

The cost of the special election is still being tallied, but Good estimated that it would cost the city around $40,000. That includes the cost of verifying the petition with an outside law firm.

The results of Tuesday's election will be presented to City Council in a special meeting on Thursday, November 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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