Westlake resident starts petition for return to at-large system

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

One Westlake resident is passing a petition around in an effort to get the attention of City Council members.

During last month’s council meeting, members locked in a tie vote over the introduction of an ordinance to require members

to be voted in at-large rather than by a designated seat.

After that meeting, Ambra Reinking said she started the petition, which so far has 84 signatures.

The city now votes for council member candidates by seat; someone running for a council post would run against others vying

for the seat. In an at-large system, candidates run and the five with the most votes are elected.

Reinking said she is trying to get at least 100 signatures on the petition, which says that those who signed wish to return

to the at-large system.

“I’ve been walking around the neighborhood trying to get signatures, and a few other people are passing them around too,”

she said. “So far, only three people I have asked wished not to sign because they don’t want to get involved since we are

a small town, but everyone else is asking to sign before I can even finish explaining it.”

Councilman John Cradure said in the meeting that he is “absolutely opposed to repealing” the current system.

He said that running in an at-large system leaves a vague platform to run on and that running for a specific council seat

means vying candidates can “discuss ideas” and “discuss the record.”

Councilman Bob Hardey sides with Cradure and is against the idea.

“I think it’s only fair to vote at-large,” Reinking said. “We have people on the council who have been there for many years,

and if someone wants to run then everyone should run. If they think they are doing such a great job, then why not go back

to the at-large system.”

Mayor Dan Cupit said he believes the current system keeps people from running for a council post.

“To get people involved in our city, we need to change it back to being at-large,” he said. “People won’t get involved in

an election when they have to choose one person to run against, it makes it too personal. We are too small of a city, and

everyone knows everyone. It’s just not appropriate for a city our size.”

Reinking also said she has a problem with the council being able to vote on how the people vote them into office.

“It should not be up to the council to vote on how we elect them,” she said. “It should be up to the people to decide how

we want to elect them because they are our council members, and they are supposed to be serving as a voice for the people.

And I think the council should know that here are the people and this is what they want.”

She said she plans to present the petition to the council at its 5:30 p.m. meeting Monday.

“I am trying to get as many people to come to the meeting as possible to let the council know what they want,” she said. “I

want us to pack the house. They work for us, but their vote didn’t represent the people.”

Cupit said the petition wouldn’t have any legal effect, but could show the council what the residents of Westlake want to

see happen.

“I think it’s great to see some residents getting involved,” he said.

Online: www.facebook.com/groups/cityofwestlake.