That is the goal the current Charter Committee has been charged with. After holding just six meetings, the committee will present their proposal to the Mesquite City Council on Nov. 9. If accepted by the City Council and then approved by the Nevada Legislature, the Charter could be implemented as soon as July 1, 2017. The 19 pages of legal jargon outlines what the city has jurisdiction of, how they must proceed in certain situations and other matters related to the nine articles found within it.
Using the City of Henderson as a skeleton for their outlines, most articles within the charter follow general guidelines that are found in other rural cities in Nevada, often citing state statutes and articles passed over the past 50 years.
The Charter for Mesquite, however, is set to create some new clarifications needed to those statutes. One example is the way in which the Mesquite City Council is elected. The situation currently leaves NRS rules in broad limbo, which caused issues during the primary elections in 2016. The charter now suggests that each seat on the council, except the mayor, be numbered one to five in no particular order. Future elections will require candidates to select the seat they wish to vie for at the time of registration. The numbers are placeholders only and do not designate a certain geographic area for that seat. The current council, upon approval of this charter, will draw numbers to designate their seats, keeping the terms the same for the existing members.
Article 5 Sec. 5.020 of the charter goes on to elaborate that if only two people file for a seat in an election, that seat’s contest will go straight to the general election and will not be listed on the primary ballot. In a contest of three or more people, if one of those candidates “receives votes equal to or greater than a majority of the voters participating in the primary election for that seat, the candidate shall be declared elected to the office and the candidate’s name must not be placed on the ballot for the general city election with an opponent listed.” If that doesn’t happen, the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes continue to the general election in November. In this instance, the definition of the “majority of voters” is defined as one half of the total voters (not votes) rounded up plus one.
At the time of this article, which was prior to a final meeting by the committee on Nov. 7, the possible situation of what would happen if three seats were up for election and candidates only sought out two of those three seats, with the third one being vacated due to term limit or non-reelection was not specified in the charter. According to Sweetin, the third seat would be filled by appointment by the new council after the election has ended.
Changes in votes by the council was also amended in the charter, stating that the Mayor must vote in certain instances. For example, in situations that seek the removal of the City Manager, City Attorney or Municipal Judge, four of six votes are needed to approve the removal action. In this situation, there is no veto power available to the Mayor or the council after the action is approved.
Another section of the new charter also clarifies that the City Council may not direct staff to take any action. While inquiries into matters are allowed, all requests for action must come from the City Manager. The Mayor and Council are unable to give direct orders to anyone except the City Attorney, City Manager or the Municipal Court Judge.
Other important parts of the charter include matters dealing with city-owned land sales, charter committee creation and absolution, discipline of council members and executive staff, meetings, and powers of the council, executive departments and similar offices within the city. The submitted draft can be found at the city’s website in the agenda packet for the Nov. 9 council meeting.