Laramie votes to reduce city council wards from seven to three, with three representatives from each ward.
On November 8 in a special election the citizens of Laramie voted on four options for electing city councilors and endorsed by a fair margin the configuration promoted by the League of Women Voters of Laramie.
Because of the requirements of the state statutes governing such elections, a plurality decided the election, so the winning proposition received 772 votes (out of approximately 1,800) and the next closest had about 500 votes, the two other choices coming in at under 300 for one and under 200 for the other.
At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, the City Council will ratify the election and issue a proclamation concerning the new system. Then, probably in February, the Boundary Committee (consisting of the current 9 City Council members and 9 citizens from all around Laramie chosen by the League when the petition was drafted, as required by state statute) will go to work to draw the boundaries of the three wards, using 2010 census information and working with the new legislative districts being drawn by the Wyoming Legislature to conform to the 2010 census. There will be public meetings and input from numerous sources, but the Boundary Committee has the responsibility to draw the new wards.
The Laramie League initiated a petition in June, 2011 to change the system of electing city council members by wards. A successful petition in 2000 led to Laramie having seven wards, the most in the state. We observed an alarming drop-off in the number of candidates. From a high of 22 candidates vying for 5 city council seats in 2000 when all were elected at large, there have been 5 single-seat ward elections since then when only one candidate filed and eight elections where only two filed, leading to no contest at all in 13 primaries. We were successful in obtaining 1,227 signatures in one month's time for a successful petition drive in July, 2011. The election will be November 8. The LWV of Laramie is supporting a 3 ward system, with all candidates elected from wards. To view a comparison of the options for electing Laramie's City Council, please click here.
In the process of conducting this petition drive, the Laramie LWV has found many inadequacies of the current Wyoming Statute 15-11-105 which governs how cities with a city manager form of government can conduct this kind of election. The least of the problems is that the term "councilmen" is used repeatedly in the statute. The greatest deficiency is that it assumes that the election is to change from an at large system to a ward system of some type. We will be urging the state LWV to work on lobbying for changes to that statute.
Our major fund-raiser is a fall luncheon that will be October 2 this year, at the Laramie Railroad Depot. This nets us about $1,000 each year, and we donate a portion of that to the LWVWY for operating funds.
Members discuss issues at Annual Meeting, April 2012 (top left)
Tricky Motion is made, LWV Laramie Annual Meeting, April 2012 (right)
Co-President Sid Walter leads discussion, LWV Laramie Annual Meeting, April 2012 (bottom left)