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Beyond the Podium: Impact of Fairhope government change if approved by voters

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(IMG: WPMI){ }Beyond the Podium: Impact of Fairhope government change if approved by voters

NBC 15 is going beyond the podium to cut through the confusion about a proposed change to Fairhope's city government.

In less than 2 weeks, voters will decide whether to get rid of the mayor-council form of government in favor of a council-manager form of government.

Proponents of the change held a forum in Fairhope Wednesday night hoping to clear up misunderstandings about this special election.

Fairhope currently has a mayor-council form of government. The mayor runs day-to-day operations and the city council setting up policy and controlling the budget.

Voters will decide on November 6 whether to change to a council-manager form of government. In that case, a professional city manager controls the operations and the mayor serves as head of the city council.

Chuck Zunk founded Fresh Start Fairhope which brought this issue to the ballot.

"Very frequently, a city manager has an advanced degree. It's the city manager who runs the city day by day under the guidance and control of the city council," said Zunk.

Zunk said it will end some of the political fighting and put the mayor and city council on the same side. The city manager will answer directly to them.

"The current system we have was imposed on us by the state of Alabama in 2004. It's not a check and balances system. It's just a political gridlock system. That's why many cities our size are abandoning that system," Zunk said.

Mayor Karin Wilson said she is all for the change in her rapidly growing city.

"It does create three districts in which constituents will have more representation and accountability. I think creates more of an environment for council to work together," said Mayor Wilson.

Officials are encouraging voters to make sure they get both the general election ballot and the referendum ballot when they go to the polls on November 6.

If the referendum passes, it would go into effect in 2020.