The Amarillo City Council is set to consider ordering a charter amendment election for November that will include one item previously rejected by voters.

Recently, the city council appointed a committee to review the city charter and to provide recommendations for amendments to the city’s governing document. After weeks of meetings and debate on various subjects, the committee settled on four proposed amendments to the charter.

Proposition A would reduce the requirements to recall a member of the council. Currently, the charter requires signatures from 30 percent of the city’s registered voters, with at least one-fifth of those signing certifying that they voted for the officer to be recalled. The proposed amendment would require signatures from 30 percent of those who voted in the last election and dispense with the certification requirement.

Proposition B would bring back the previously defeated push by the Ginger Nelson-led City Council to extend the body’s terms to four years each. However, the new twist with this year’s version of the proposal would be term limits of two four-year terms for elected officeholders. This was a popular item on the committee, as several committee members, closely aligned with the city’s establishment, favored resurrecting the term extensions.

The version of the charter amendment placed on the ballot in 2020 was narrowly defeated, with around 52 percent of voters rejecting the measure.

Meanwhile, Proposition C would add two additional seats to the city council and introduce mandatory residency districts for three seats. Candidates for those seats would be required to live in a certain area of the city, but all voters in the city’s election could vote for those members. The other four members would remain completely at-large.

The final proposed change to the charter would amend the current language to clarify the relationship between the city council and the city manager in the city’s hiring practices. Currently, the charter provides that hiring decisions will be made by the city manager with consultation by the city council. The proposed new language would clarify that this provision would only apply to unqualified executive positions within the city.

The Amarillo City Council is widely expected to approve the four proposed charter amendments to be placed on the ballot, while citizens are actively pushing for two additional items to be considered. These proposals include moving city elections to November, which the committee rejected during deliberations. Some citizens are pushing to amend the four-year term measure to leave the mayor’s term at two years. Although the committee did not approve this, it is considered a possible measure for the ballot.

All proposed charter amendments will be decided in the upcoming November election.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.