Commission Proposed To Change Watertown Government

Commission Proposed To Change Watertown Government

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Bringing a "strong mayor" form of government to Watertown is an issue Council Member Ryan Henry-Wilkinson campaigned heavily for.

"Presently the city executive is a city manager who is appointed by council and council is elected by the public. There's no reason why the public shouldn't just be allowed to elect the executive on their own," he said.

He proposes getting rid of the city manager position and having the mayor take over those duties.

Now that he has an official seat at the table, he plans to push towards that goal.

The first step would be establishing a charter commission to get public input on the current form of government.

"I would like to see members of the community get a chance to weigh in on this," said Henry-Wilkinson.

Council Member Cody Horbacz thinks the commission should be made up of all city council members and the mayor, along with people they want to appoint.

"We have regular contact with the community. We know where they stand. We know how they feel on issues, so we can bring that to the commission," he said.

However Mayor Joe Butler disagrees and says council shouldn't be directly involved.

"Those people that want change one way or the other should not be on the committee influencing that change. You want to keep it separate and distinct," he said.

Horbacz is in favor of a strong mayor form of government.

Mayor Butler is against it.

Council members Mark Walczyk and Lisa Ruggiero support creating a committee to look into it.

Mayor Butler has asked council members to submit names for the charter commission and hopes to have it established by the end of January. He says that any changes the committee wants to make to the charter wouldn't be proposed until next year.

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