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Clifton Mulls Over Election Procedures

Election procedures and fund-raising ideas were the hot topics at last week's meeting of the Clifton Town Council. Clifton has never formalized in its town ordinance just exactly how the vice-mayor gets elected.

"It's always been the one who got the most votes for Town Council," said Clifton Mayor Jim Chesley.

However, that's not the way it was decided after last May's elections for mayor and town council. Instead, dissension caused a rift among the councilmen and the procedure was changed so that, over the vice-mayor's current two-year term, each council member is taking turns doing the job.

Now, the councilmen are reconsidering not only how the town's vice-mayor should be elected, but the mayor, as well. Three ideas proposed during the Tuesday, Nov. 5, town council meeting were:

1. Keep things as is, with separate elections for the mayor and vice-mayor. The person receiving the highest vote total in the town-council race would become the vice-mayor.

2. Everyone runs for town council, and the one with the most votes of the town residents becomes mayor.

3. Everyone runs for town council, and then the council members elect the mayor among themselves.

Chesley doesn't like the second proposal and sees danger in the third one. As for proposal No. 2, he noted that the duties of the town mayor and those of the councilmen vastly different.

"They're a world apart," he said. "Not everyone wants to be mayor, and I think this idea might discourage people from running for town council — and it's hard enough to get good people to run for office."

As for proposal No. 3, selecting the mayor in that manner, said Chesley, "takes the choice away from the people, and I don't think that's correct. I personally think the [town-council candidate] with the highest vote total should be vice mayor, and the town residents should elect the mayor."

Besides, he added, Clifton can't just arbitrarily change its election procedures at the drop of a hat. No matter what alteration it decided to make, it would first have to obtain permission from the state legislature to change the town's charter.

* In other business, the town council continued its discussion about possible fund-raising ideas for Clifton. Jim Fullerton, chairman of the town's annual Clifton Day event, argued against the suggestion that attendees be charged admission. And Clifton resident Tom Peterson brought up the idea of a golf tournament, since the Twin Lakes and Westfields golf courses are so nearby.

* Town residents Randy Thompson and Dwayne Nitz are also looking into the possibility of having a free, Friday-night, summer-concert series in Clifton's park.

* And Chesley would like to have the town participate in a program called Tree City. It would reforest as much of Clifton as possible, replace old and dying trees and plant new trees in the open areas.