BY ALICIA ROBINSON
STAFF WRITER
arobinson@pe.com

Published: 18 May 2012 05:39 PM

Besides choosing one of seven candidates for mayor, Riverside voters on June 5 will say yea or nay to seven proposed amendments to the city charter.

The proposals include creating a sustainability commission, changing to whom the city auditor reports, shortening the time between council elections and runoffs, and a number of minor adjustments.

The charter, the city’s governing document, determines how the city is run and the powers and duties of its officials. It was reviewed in 2011 as part of a regular process to suggest changes or additions and put those before voters.

After the new environmental commission and auditor issue, when runoffs are held may be the most substantive change. Currently, elections for the city’s seven council seats are held in June of odd-numbered years. If no one candidate wins at least 50 percent plus one vote, the top two vote getters go to a November runoff.

Measure G would push runoffs from early November into late August, cutting about two months off candidates’ campaigns.

A ballot argument in favor of the change, signed by charter review committee member Wendel Tucker, says the change will shorten the period of uncertainty over who will represent voters, lower the cost of campaigns and make it more likely voters will stay engaged in the process. Tucker acknowledges an August runoff would cost slightly more, because it can’t be consolidated with a statewide general election.

But a ballot statement in opposition, signed by Mayor Ron Loveridge and Councilman Mike Gardner, cites the higher cost as a drawback and argues that the shorter cycle favors incumbents, who generally have better name recognition and more fundraising clout than challengers. The summer months, they argue, are a bad time both to meet voters and to expect turnout for an election.

Measure H would remove the city manager’s authority over hiring and firing of employees of the city clerk and city attorney; the city manager now has authority over nearly every city employee except the clerk and attorney, as all three are directly appointed by the council.

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