If the City Council rejects a recommendation to create a chief operating officer, the Republican Party will lend a hand to efforts to force a public referendum on the issue.
Tom Barnes, Jr, the city GOP leader, said that the party isn’t taking a stand on whether to add the new position or not.But, he said, the Republicans do support the idea of letting the public decide whether to create it or not.
Barnes said there ought to be “an open vote” by the public to decide the issue’s fate.
If the City Council refuses to let people vote on the recommended charter change, Republicans will help city Councilor Ken Cockayne gather signatures to force a referendum, he said.
“My main concern is giving the people a chance to vote,” said Cockayne, one of only two city councilors who back the Charter Revision Commission’s call for the new position.
Cockayne said that he hopes those who favor the position will help gather several thousand signatures to force a referendum rather than allow the City Council to thwart any chance of the chief operating officer’s creation.
Cockayne, a freshman Republican, said that most of the people who showed up at a hearing on the issue this week were city employees and school custodians. They opposed the suggested change.
Mike Petosa, president of the Greater Bristol Labor Council, said that people elect the mayor and council to make decisions, not pass them off to a minority of the public to decide.
“The public should be allowed to vote. It is not a democracy only when it benefits the unions,” Cockayne said. “What are they afraid of? Could it possibly be being held accountable?”
The charter change should “not be blocked by those beholden to the unions,” Cockayne said.
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