Dunwoody City Council candidates could be elected with less than a majority of the vote under a recommendation from the city’s Charter Commission, which rejected a similar proposal for mayoral candidates.
Currently, candidates for mayor and City Council must receive a majority of the votes — 50% plus one — to win the office. If no candidate wins the majority, a runoff election is held.
The Charter Commission recently recommended a legal change that would allow City Council candidates to win with a 45% plurality of the vote.
At an Oct. 19 meeting, the commission rejected a similar change for mayoral elections. The commission’s own vote on the mayoral election proposal lacked a majority, with the proposal failing on a 2-2 tie. Commission Chair Robert Wittenstein and Commissioner Amy Swygert voted in favor, and Commissioners Wayne Radloff and Anne Hicks voted in opposition. Marian Avise was not present for the meeting.
“I would strongly prefer for it to be consistent between the City Council members and the mayor,” said Swygert.
Radloff said he prefers that the mayor be elected by a majority, even though he understood how inefficient a runoff election can be.
Commissioner Anne Hicks said in her research she found only one other city that used the plurality method. She said voters could lose confidence in the mayor if the winner wasn’t chosen by a majority.
After a discussion about real estate development, the commission also decided to include a note in its council report requesting better coordination and communication among government bodies about potential tax abatement proposals.
The charter commission is a group of appointed residents who review the laws that empower the city and make recommendations for changes to the Georgia General Assembly. The commission will complete its work in its next and final meeting on Nov. 2. A report created from its review of the charter and including its suggestions for changes will immediately be forwarded to the City Council. The council will submit its desired changes to the Georgia General Assembly.
Correction and update: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that the current city charter allows City Council candidates to be elected with a 45% plurality, rather than that being a new proposal by the Charter Commission.