Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Cookeville Council Agrees To Continue Discussions About Election Change

Cookeville City Council agreed Monday to discuss and consider a charter change allowing residents to directly elect the mayor.

Councilman Eric Walker said he would like to see a committee formed to make a recommendation to the city council.

“To take that position out and make it separate is a lot of changes to the charter. I don’t think we should make big changes just because I think our system does work really well,” Walker said. “In my opinion, I think we’ve evolved into our charter and I really do appreciate that. It’s going to take a great deal of consideration to think about how we’re going to change it, if we are.”

Currently, the city council selects Cookeville’s mayor and vice mayor. The positions typically go to the candidates receiving the most votes in the city council election. Walker said that process allows the talent pool to stay together.

“Everyone who runs for it has an opportunity to serve. If you separate out the mayor position, you lose that opportunity,” Walker said. “Depending on how you write up something new, you may lose members who are well qualified to serve as councilmen and didn’t make the mayor’s position.”

Vice Mayor Laurin Wheaton said any changes to the charter should not affect current council members.

“If that is something that’s going to happen, get a committee and look at it,” Wheaton said. “But I think if you start changing stuff when you’re the one getting affected by the change it’s probably not the best thing for the city.”

Councilmen Mark Miller proposed a change to the election process last month. He ultimately decided against submitting his proposal when the council held their December meeting.

Council has agreed to continue discussions after MTAS provides background information about changing the election process.