Sheridan City Council Approves Special Election For City Administrator Question

Oct 9, 2019

Credit Catherine Wheeler

The Sheridan City Council has approved an emergency ordinance for a special election.

In July, the council approved a law that aims to clarify and distinguish the responsibilities of the city administrator and the mayor. It looked to replace the existing law that created the city administrator position in 2015.

The new law is now being challenged by a petition from some Sheridan residents that say the position is not necessary.

For the petition to be valid and to trigger a special election, it's required to have the signatures of 10 percent of qualified voters.

Sheridan City Clerk Cecilia Good said she and city staff went through the process of certifying the petition, and it was also validated by an independent law firm.

Good said the number of signatures met the 10 percent threshold exactly.

"So after all of the review that was put into the petition, it was determined that there were 642 valid signatures on the petition that was submitted on September 16. The language was deemed to be valid and a copy of the ordinance accompanied the petition," she said.

At Monday's city council meeting, councilmen passed the ordinance that will guide the special election. Council expressed that for the best results, they want this election to be similar to regular election days.

Good said voters will be asked one question on election day.

"The ballot language we have here...will read, shall Charter Ordinance 2202 City of Sheridan City Administrator take effect? [Voting] yes, it shall take effect. [Voting] no, charter ordinance shall not take effect," she said.

The election will be held on November 5, and the seven polling places used in the last election will be open around town. Polling places will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Absentee ballots for residents can be requested starting on October 14. They must be returned to City Hall by 7:00 p.m. on election day.

City officials said the preliminary cost estimate for the special election is $39,696, but that number is likely to change. That money will come out of the city's general fund.

City Attorney Brendon Kerns said that amount includes the money to pay the independent firm that certified the petition results.

Earlier this year, the council studied the city administrator to see if it was beneficial for the city. While council ultimately agree the city administrator position helps the city, Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller asked council to consider repealing the existing law while also debating passing a replacement. That idea failed when proposed.

So if residents vote against the new law in November's election, it will not take away the city administrator position as the existing law that created the job will still be in effect.

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