Staggered terms for city councilors.

Four year terms instead of two.

McAlester voters will decide on Tuesday if the city charter should be changed to include these adjustments.

As of now, city council elections are held every two years, and all of the council seats become open at the same time.

But if Proposition No. 5 passes, that will all change.

Proposition No. 5 states “Municipal elections shall be held every two years. At the first election in 2006, the Mayor and six Council Members shall be elected. The Mayor and council members from odd numbered wards shall serve for terms of two years, and council members from even numbered districts shall serve for terms of four years. At all subsequent elections, the Mayor and council members, as terms expire, shall be elected and serve for terms of four years.”

Steve Shoup, Charter Review Committee chairman, offered some reasons for the proposed changes.

“There was a feeling that there is a risk for the city in having all of the councilors replaced at the same time,” Shoup said. “Mainly because of the experience factor.”

Shoup said the overall goal of the proposal “is to add experience and stability to city government.”

Shoup served as Ward 3 Councilor in McAlester from 1990 to 1992. He said his experience on the council leads him to believe Proposition No. 5 is a good idea.

“The first year I pretty much followed the lead of the other councilors,” Shoup said. “By the second year I was starting to learn more about procedure and the rules so I began to have more input. With more years behind you you’re more confident and knowledgeable.”

Shoup said the bottom line is more experienced councilors lead to better decisions at city hall.

However, the citizens of McAlester may disagree. Shoup said the same type of proposition has already been voted down at least four times.

“It has been voted down a number of times,” Shoup said. “I’ve been able to trace it back four times.”

Shoup said the committee still thought the proposal was a good idea, so they put it on the ballot one more time.

Ward One Councilor Greg Rock disagrees with the proposal.

“I don’t think we need to be extending the length of time for any council members or the mayor,” Rock said. “What if people aren’t satisfied?”

Rock feels the recall process should be “cleaned up” before any terms are extended.

“It really turns out to be unfair to the citizens,” Rock said. “If a councilor isn’t doing the right thing or is unresponsive to their ward they’re stuck with them for four years, or they have to initiate a process that is confusing at best.”

Contact Trevor Dunbar at tdunbar@mcalesternews.com.