Republicans plan to take a stand on the proposed chief operating officer position at City Hall.
Though the GOP’s town committee played a key role in helping secure signatures to put the measure on the ballot, it’s far from certain that the Republicans will endorse the proposed charter change.
The two Republican city councilors, Mike Rimcoski and Ken Cockayne, are split on the issue, with Cockayne a strong supporter and Rimcoski a strident critic.
Tom Barnes, the city GOP chairman, said the party threw its support behind the signature drive to put the issue on the ballot because members believed the public should get a chance to vote on it. But the party didn’t take a position on the ultimate outcome.
At least two of the people who gathered signatures, Henry Raymond and Mickey Goldwasser, said that many who signed the petitions did so for the same reason the GOP backed the referendum effort. They said many residents simply wanted the right to decide.
Barnes said he wanted the Republican Town Committee to vote on the question this month, but turnout for the meeting was so light that officials thought it was best to wait another month.
“It would be nice if all the members came,” said Sharon Krawiecki, who is running for registrar this year.
The chief operating officer “would be someone sitting below the mayor” at City Hill and would serve as the mayor’s “right hand man,” Barnes said.
He said that creating the post would allow for a professional administrator to handle day-to-day oversight of city government and leave the mayor free for ceremonial functions, meetings and larger policy decisions.
The idea, Barnes said, is to have “a better organized and better run city government.”
Critics say the position is poorly thought out and likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars extra each year, with no guarantee of a more efficient operation.
Both sides are gearing up for educational campaigns to sway the public to their way of thinking.
The Charter Revision Committee unanimously backed the proposed change to the city government’s blueprint, but councilors gunned it down on a 5-2 vote in June.
By state law, those backing the recommendation had 45 days to gather signatures from at least 10 percent of Bristol’s registered voters in order to force a referendum over the council’s objection.
They pulled it off by mobilizing petition gatherers in June and July to round up more than 4,300 signatures at grocery stores and beyond. In the end, they got several hundred valid signatures more than they needed to meet the state standard.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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