Our View

Our View

Bid to change in Marion voting policy unlikely to get support

Once again former Marion councilwoman Sherry Holliman wants to, let’s say, upset the apple cart by calling upon the “good ole’ boy” establishment to abandon the way city politicians are elected.

We have to say that although Holliman was greeted with the utmost courtesy during a recent city council meeting when she appealed to Mayor Frank Fogleman and council members to consider allowing voters this November to decide whether to retain the at-large voting process or establish ward voting, the likelihood of this occurring is highly doubtful.

Holliman, for those in Marion who can remember, went to the Marion City council in 2016, with the idea of eliminating the at-large voting process but no action was ever taken to advance the idea. Now she is wanting the idea to be presented to the voters to decide.

Besides asking the voters to have a say in the city’s voting process, Holliman, who is seeking another term on the city council, also wants voters to have a chance to decide on an alcohol by the drink issue.

On the voting issue, Marion currently uses what is called a mixed system. The city is divided into specific geographical wards where council members live in and represent, but voting is open to the entire electorate where votes cast their ballots for all candidates.

It is true that Marion is the only incorporated area in Crittenden County that uses a mixed election system to decide on who will serve, Holliman said it isn’t fair, in her opinion, to let residents who live in other parts of the city choose who represents each ward.

Let’s break this down and look at how Marion elects its public officials. While each council member represents the ward in which he or she lives being elected by the atlarge process means that he or she must look at the overall city in the decision-making process and vote for the overall good of every citizen rather that just those within a specific ward or neighborhood.

Far too often, as we’ve experienced in West Memphis, council members tend to narrow their concerns and efforts on just the ward they are elected from, sometimes regardless of overall benefit of the whole city. We’ve seen that occur on issues involving road paving, public buildings, parks, as well as the spending of grand money. Now, in an at-large situation council members are elected by the entire electorate, which means that when projects are brought up they look at the entire city and its needs rather than focus on just one specific area or ward, resulting in a general consensus. In Marion’s voting history, this at-large voting method has proven to be popular among the majority of voters, which leads us to believe Holliman’s efforts may fall on deaf ears once again.

Now then, on this alcohol measure, Holliman said Marion is considered to be dry, however some restaurants are already serving alcohol by the drink. Because Marion is considered dry, state Arkansas Alcohol and Beverage Control Board regulations require restaurants to apply for a special private club permit.

Holliman says she wants voters to have the opportunity to make alcohol sales legal in Marion, an issue we seriously doubt Marionites will support.

Furthermore, we doubt this city council will support such an issue on the ballot but, who knows they very will might pass such an ordinance and allow the issue to be on the upcoming November ballot.