Direct election of mayor on agenda

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Think voters deserve more say in selecting the city’s mayor?

That’s a question that city leaders will begin exploring with the public through a series of town meetings in coming weeks, said Mayor Bobby L. Ralph.

The meetings, poised to start in May, will focus on the direct election of mayor. Specific dates and sites will be announced.

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&uot;These community meetings are a way for us to gauge the fever for direct election of mayor,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;They will help show us the level of public interest in the issue.&uot;

Council members traditionally have elected one of themselves to serve as the city’s mayor.

Ralph said he has not yet formed an opinion on whether direct election would be in the city’s best interest.

&uot;I’m wide open at this point,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’ll be learning at these meetings, just like any other citizen.&uot;

Moving to direct election of the mayor could have major ramifications, Ralph said. For example, the boundaries of the city’s political boroughs might need to be changed.

&uot;It could require some drastic changes,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;There are a lot of options we have to look at.&uot;

He is hoping to draw upon the expertise of other localities that have undergone similar changes.

If the Suffolk City Council ultimately endorses direct election, it would require a change to the city’s charter and be subject to approval by the General Assembly.