McDonough District 2 Councilwoman Sandra Vincent
Government officials in McDonough are seeking support from state legislators for a recently approved charter in Henry’s county seat.
The McDonough City Council voted Monday to ask the Georgia General Assembly to support legislation enacting a revised version of its 2003 city charter. The motion came from District 2 Councilwoman, Sandra Vincent, before a standing-room-only crowd at McDonough City Hall.
“I would further offer that, upon submission of this document, this mayor and council starts the immediate establishment of a charter review commission to review our charter,” said Vincent.
City leaders wrestled, in recent weeks, with proposed changes to the charter. At issue is provision centered on whether mayoral powers include administrative duties, or should be designated for a city administrator.
Vincent, during a council meeting Monday, said a city administrator, and not a mayor, should handle day-to-day operations of the city.
The city council, recently, began evaluating whether adjustments to the charter are needed. Charter amendments from 2003 were not submitted to the U.S. Justice Department for pre-clearance, thereby raising concerns about the charter’s enforceability, according to City Attorney Leigh Hancher.
Hancher, in an earlier council meeting, suggested repealing the 2003 ordinance, which would have placed the city government under its 1981 charter.
Vincent, on Monday, reiterated her support for submitting the current charter to the General Assembly. Vincent was emphatic in her assertion that the council’s decision did not change McDonough’s form of government.
“We have not changed anything,” said Vincent. “What we have, in fact, done, is we have validated what that 2003 council did, and we have made those actions legal.”
“When we don’t address the issue of where the issue of administrative powers rest, what we in fact do is, we change the process that happened in 2003,” she continued. “What we have sought is a legal place in which to stand, but you can’t start at that legal place unless you implement what was already done.
“If the citizens of McDonough feel that they do not support that, then we need to start at ground zero, which is to make this legal, and the citizens [can] come back and say, ‘We don’t like it, we want to change it,’ ” said Vincent.
District 3 Councilman Wayne Smith attempted to introduce an alternative to the charter, as he had done in two previous meetings, to pass a resolution approving components of the 2003 charter with the exclusion of modifications related to mayoral powers. Smith’s motion also called for leaving the city administrator’s duties out of the charter.
Smith’s motion died for lack of support from the other council members. Smith, as well as McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland, did not comment on the council’s decision.
Vincent’s motion to submit the revised 2003 document passed by a vote of 5 to 2, with Mayor Billy Copeland, and Smith, casting the dissenting votes.