Ludington voters being asked to decide to move forward with charter revision. 

April 19, 2022

Ludington voters being asked to decide to move forward with charter revision. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Residents in the City of Ludington will go to the polls May 3 to decide if the city will move forward with revising its charter. 

A municipal charter is the basic document that defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of the city government, similar to a constitution. In the State of Michigan, the Home Rule Cities Act of 1903 allows for the establishments of municipalities to become chartered, giving those municipalities certain authorities to establish local ordinances and enforce those ordinances. 

Charters may be amended two ways: 

  • Amendment. This is a correction of detail, such as a revision of language in a particular segment of the charter. The amendment must be approved through referendum (vote of the people). 
  • Revision. This is a fundamental change to the document. A revision is a re-examination of the entire document without any duty to maintain the form or structure of the charter. 

A charter revision requires, first, a three-fifths approval by the city council, or by petition from the people, to declare for a general charter revision question be placed on the ballot. If the majority of voters approve the request, a charter commission is elected. The commission consists of nine people, elected through ballot. Those nine people have to have been residents of the city for at least three years. No city officer or employee, whether elected or appointed, shall be eligible to a place on the commission. State law allows for the charter commissioners to be elected during the same election as the question of revising the charter. If the charter question fails, then the commission election is voided. If the ballot question to proceed with a charter revision passes, the charter commission will convene and begin working on revising the charter. Once the revision is complete, the proposed revised charter will be put on the ballot. 

If the proposal fails, the commission can choose to disperse or to present an amended charter proposal. The topic can only be brought to the voters three times.  If no revised charter is adopted during three years following the adoption of the proposition to revise, then the charter revision commission shall terminate and cease to exist. A new proposal to revise may be adopted at any time after termination of a charter revision commission.

The Ludington City Charter was originally adopted on March 22, 1873 with revisions taking place on March 20, 1893, Jan. 17, 1916, and Aug. 4, 1992. Revision attempts failed in 1968 and 1984/1985. 

Currently there are four candidates, who filed to be on the ballot, for the nine-person charter commission. These names will appear on the May 3 ballot: Mark Barnett, Nicholas Krieger, Jack Stibitz, Mike Winczewski. 

In addition, seven other candidates have officially stated their intention with the city clerk to be write-in candidates. They include: Dennis Dunlap, Nancy Anthony Fife, Brian Koblinski, Lyla McClelland, Karen Nielsen, and Thomas Rotta, and Michael Shaw.

A write-in vote cast for an individual who has not filed a declaration of intent does not count. 

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