On April 2, we have a chance to hold our city's destiny in our own hands, more than ever before! We will be voting on whether or not to approve a Home Rule Charter for Sikeston, as drafted over the past year by a Charter Commission comprised of 13 citizens of Sikeston. The "home rule" part is important, as it means that "we the people" will no longer be restricted by many state laws that now prevent us from making changes that would be beneficial to us and our city.
The Charter, if passed by the voters, means we have more influence in the future through new and greater ability to ensure that our elected representatives carry out our majority wishes through the initiative, referendum and recall process. Our taxation options will be increased, by vote of the public. There will be more flexible procedures given our city officials to hire and fire, establish more favorable regulations, grant business licenses to help our city grow, establish fiscal policies in line with Sikeston tradition and preferences, and other advantages not now available as a Class 3 city.
The Charter increases our city council to seven members: four will each represent one of four newly created wards and three, including the mayor, will be "at large" members of the council. Also on the ballot we can vote on whether the citizens elect the mayor, or the city council appoints the mayor, as is now done. No matter how this vote turns out, the mayor will continue to function and have the same influence as he or she has had in the past - no greater powers or ability to make binding decisions. This vote for whether or not to directly elect the mayor will take effect only if the Charter passes.
Some concern has been raised regarding the status of our city boards, such as municipal utilities, the library and housing authority. It is my understanding that these boards will maintain their autonomous status, and will continue to function and control their interests as they do now.
If we vote to become a Home Rule city, then each of us will have more opportunity to have input and "say" as to how we want our city to function and grow. It is important to remember that if we vote to approve the Charter, but are not happy with some of its provisions, we can vote to change those provisions at any time in the future. If the Charter fails, it will be a number of years (beginning with another Charter Commission and year of planning) before another attempt can be made to give us more control of what we want Sikeston to be. Can we afford that?
Election day is upon every citizen registered to vote. It is your privilege to elect who you think will do the best job for the office he is running for.
Everyone should be aware and very alert of the ones on the ballot of their work record and their honesty as an average citizen. One reads many times of how funds are misappropriated in some offices, which should never happen. Stealing, lying, cheating, are offenses against God and man, whether they wear a badge and carry a gun; they still take an oath.
Your March 3 editorial is a good example of Vernon Thompson, a felon who was a legislator and his greed for money got him into trouble. This day and time there is much crime. As I was growing up, there were hangings and an electric chair sat in Jefferson City for people who committed heinous crimes. Today a needle in the arm is an easy death compared to most of his victims. I see no need in the taxpayers helping feed a person who cares nothing for a life. So be sure that person you choose to vote for is qualified, and if he's not eligible or qualified now, he sure doesn't need the office.
April 2 is earmarked for our freedom to be revealed and the majority will rule, so take time out of your busy day to vote. It is a privilege in the good old USA that many in other lands do not have.
Arneita Price, East Prairie