A note that former GOP mayoral candidate Ken Johnson sent out this evening to supporters of the chief operating officer petition drive:
It’s official! The City Clerk’s office reports that they have completed the signature validation process and we’ve succeeded! Therese Pac stated that her office validated 3661 signatures vs. the 3176 required to put the City Manager/COO question onto the ballot. Congratulations to each and every one of you who helped collect signatures. Please help me extend a generous thank-you to other supporters not on this distribution list and to everyone who signed the petition.
You have all participated in a process that has given voice to the citizens of Bristol. Your effort has paid off and the result is an historic reversal of Bristol City Council action. I ask you to join me, too, in acknowledging the efforts of every member of the City Clerk’s office and the Registrars office. You know the hours we expended in gathering these signatures. Imagine the enormous undertaking of going through thousands of signatures, one at a time, cross checking names and addresses against the voter rolls. An interesting aside that Therese shared with me is that our petition drive helped clean up the voter rolls a bit. Over 100 people gave addresses that were different from their address on the voter registration list. Once each name and address was validated, the Registrars were able to correct their list to reflect the new addresses.
If you’re interested in the math, here’s a little analysis of the numbers. When we set out to collect signatures, we knew we had to get nearly 3200 validated signatures. Anecdotal information shared with us indicated that we could expect 15% to 20% of the signatures we’d collect to be invalidated (for a variety of reasons from ‘can’t read their handwriting’ to ‘they said they’re a voter but they’re not’). For that reason, we felt we needed a 25% ‘cushion’ to be safe. So, instead of aiming for 3200 signatures, we aimed for 4200 in hopes of creating that ‘safe’ margin.
In total, we turned in 4378 signatures. Of that number, 717 were invalidated which works out to 16.4%. So the 15% - 20% estimate turned out to be very accurate. Based on the signatures turned in, 27.5% would have had to be rejected for the petition drive to fail. As it turns out we had a very comfortable and IMPRESSIVE 485 signature cushion.
So, you ask, what happens next? My understanding is that the council will convene to vote to place the question on the ballot. According to Therese, the council can choose to put the question on this November’s ballot or next November’s ballot or on a special ballot. You all know what the correct answer is and I expect the council will be able to figure that out, too. The next step after that isn’t quite as clear to me. The question must be crafted – but by whom? Therese stated that it does not appear to fall under her office in this instance. I’m supposing that perhaps it would be written by Corporation Counsel or the City Council. I’d like to see Tim’s Charter Revision Commission write it. (Or maybe we, the people, get to write it! …any submissions?) Ultimately, absentee ballots including the COO question must be available by Oct. 3rd.
The next step for our group is clear. I’m thrilled that the people will get the opportunity to vote on this very important question about the form of their municipal government. I’m thrilled irregardless of a ‘YES’ vote or a ‘NO’ vote in November. But we must now turn our attention to educating voters on the subject and making a persuasive case for the City Manager. So, you see, we’ve still got lots of work to do… any volunteers?
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Contact Steve Collins at email@example.com