The political parley over West Jordan's form of government continued Wednesday as about 75 community leaders and residents were asked about their preferences for city government.
Cursory feedback from the group seemed to indicate some would go along with or would favor making the mayor's job a full-time position. But there was less support for a proposal that would change the form of government and make the mayor a full-time executive officer.West Jordan's administrative affairs are currently handled by a city manager under an optional form of government allowed by state statute that makes the mayor a voting member of the City Council. The mayor's other roles are more ceremonial than administrative.
A group of residents would like to change that so the mayor would run the city's daily affairs and have veto power over council decisions instead of having a regular vote as a member of the legislative body.
Brent Overson, representing the group that wants to change the form of government, said a petition now circulating will have enough signatures by April 1, about 1,300, to force the issue to a vote.
Because the evening program was running behind schedule, West Jordan Mayor Kristin Lambert asked Overson to abbreviate his pro-change remarks and said she would do the same when making her pitch for the manager/council form of government. But when Overson finished telling why the city's government should be changed, which took about 10 minutes, Lambert spent twice as long explaining the reasons she and members of the council believe the government should be left as it is.
Lambert said she and the council might be persuaded to make the mayor's job a full-time position, but she said the city's incumbent elected officials are against changing the form of government.
"We've tried every form of government. We stick with it for a while, and then we change," Lambert said. The changes and "stubborn, constant disagreements" between elected officials and factions within the city are having a damaging effect on the city and its operations, she said.
Overson said having a city manager and a mayor who is a council member merges executive and legislative government powers that should be kept separate as they are at the state and federal levels of government.
Orem City Manager Daryl Berlin told the group he believes any of the established government options can work if residents want it to.
Provo's chief executive officer, Chet Waggener, said the cost of a particular form of government is less important than its effectiveness. "When I think of Provo city, I think of it as a $47 million conglomerate," he said. A strong mayor can provide necessary leadership for a city, but he likely cannot step into an elected post with the professional background necessary to run the day-to-day operations of a city with all of its diverse functions.