Completely new petitions must be used, because dates and other details of the charter amendments must be changed, Johnson said.
A few years ago, when Hamilton residents were surveyed, 27 percent said they strongly supported moving to a ward system, while another 53 percent said they “somewhat” supported it, for a total of 80 percent of the 333 people surveyed in support. On the other hand, 12 percent were somewhat opposed, and 8 percent strongly opposed.
Vice Mayor Carla Fiehrer said she agrees with Hamilton Community Council Chairman the late Butch Hubble, who was quoted in a November, 2012, Journal-News article opposing going to the ward system. Hubble at the time said: ““We are only 62,000 people. At that size it would actually divide the city more by having a particular council person be responsible for one particular ward…. I see our council people working hard for everybody, not just their area. I like it when we all work together, and I think wards would bring in too much competition (among council members and parts of the city).”
“I still believe that to be true,” Fiehrer said about Hubble’s quotes. She said that in 2000, a Charter Review Committee investigated the ward system and, “overall consensus was a ward system would be divisive and that public officials should represent and be accountable to the entire city.”
The term-limits change would have limited council members and the mayor to a pair of four-year terms.
The ward system, intended to ensure council members come from more diverse areas of the city, would require that four council members be elected from four different wards. The other three council positions (including the mayor) could be elected from anywhere across the city. Currently, all seven council members, including the mayor, are elected citywide.
“For a week’s time, to be able to collect almost 800 signatures, that’s a good deal,” Johnson said. “To be able to get almost 800 in less than a week, I think you’ve done a great job, and you have to pat yourself on the back.”