This week, Muskogee voters have a big decision to vote on potential changes to the structure of their city government.
On June 30, Muskogee voters will see this question on their ballots: "Shall the City of Muskogee revoke the Charter under which it is now operating, and adopt and be governed under the statutory strong-mayor -- council form of government as provided by the laws of Oklahoma?
Oklahoma law said cities can be run by a strong mayor or strong city manager form of government. A vote of YES would revoke the Charter and thus adopt the Statutory Strong Mayor form of government operating under a mayor-council structure. A vote of NO would maintain the current City Charter of the City of Muskogee that operates under the council-city manager structure.
Attorney Rob Raasch is urging voters to vote "yes" to change the city's charter to have a strong-mayor.
"For decades Muskogee is been stuck in the mud. Under the strong mayor, the mayor is accountable to the people the people of Muskogee not Oklahoma City," Raasch said.
Attorney John Hammons said he is against the proposal. "The charter allows Muskogee to govern itself, by giving that up we allow the governor and the legislature to treat Muskogee the way the federal government treats Oklahoma - out of touch and unresponsive," Hammons explained.
Both men have addressed voter questions, including "would the proposition change their current ward voting to at-large voting?"
Raasch said he hasn’t "heard anyone on the vote 'yes' say that they would remove award voting." Raasch also said if the city votes "yes", a new charter with changes from votes would be drafted in a few months.
Hammons said he thinks a new charter would take much longer to vote on and believes the change is unnecessary. "Without a city charter, people from Weatherford or Diamond or Tulsa or Tahlequah get to vote on what happens in Muskogee. With a city charter, Muskogee gets to govern itself."
Voters also asked "will the police department be defunded if voters vote 'yes'?" Raasch said that is a lie. Hammons said defunding the police could be a possibility if voters vote for a strong mayor and let politics run the city.
On the City of Muskogee's Official website, the city provides resources to better understand the proposition. You can find those links here:
For info on the CITY CHARTER & COUNCIL-MANAGER form of government.
For info on STATUTORY STRONG MAYOR-COUNCIL form of government.
For info on OTHER THINGS TO KNOW.