Public interest slack at direct election forum

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2005

Just 15 people showed up to Nansemond River High School Thursday for the first of two public forums on the direct election of the mayor.

The city brought in two experts on direct mayoral election: Robert de Voursney, professor emeritus of government and public policy at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service in Charlottesville, and Carter Glass, a Richmond attorney whose practice specializes in election law and changes to local government structure.

The two spent more than an hour discussing the pros and cons of direct election and the council-election systems of selecting a mayor.

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Both men will be back for a second forum being held at Lakeland High School at 7 p.m. June 7.

The forums are designed to both educate the public and gauge citizens’ sentiment on moving to a directly elected mayoral system, said Mayor Bobby L. Ralph.

&uot;Attendance last night didn’t indicate there was a lot of interest in directly electing the mayor,&uot; he said.

He said he has talked to several people today who said they didn’t think people are interested in changing the method of selecting the city’s leader.