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Clermont to ask legislature to change town charter
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Other business

In other business, the Clermont Town Council voted to:

• Give Brad Rounds of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office the go-ahead to explore building a fitness center on town property for deputies working out of the north precinct.

• Give final OK to setting the Nov. 3 election for Ward 1, 2 and 5 seats. Qualifying is set for Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at Town Hall, 109 King St. The qualifying fee is $43.20. Details: 770-983-7568.

Clermont Town Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to ask Hall County’s state lawmakers to introduce a bill that calls for changing the town charter to reflect the North Hall town’s move to setting up voting wards.

Councilman Eric Thomas was the lone opponent of the measure.

He didn’t comment on his vote. At an earlier meeting, he questioned the changes, saying, “Hall County runs with four (commissioners) and a chairperson,” referring to the county’s system of having no

at-large commissioner.

Otherwise, council had little discussion on the matter.

Currently, all council members and the mayor are elected at large, or by the entire town, and that wouldn’t change under the new charter.

What would change is that four of the five council members would have to live in specific voting wards, while one council member and the mayor will represent the entire town.

The new system would start this year, as Ward 1, 2 and 5 seats are up for election Nov. 3.

The council members now in those seats are Thomas, Seth Weaver and John Brady. Their terms expire Dec. 31.

The mayor’s post and Ward 3 and 4 seats are up for election in 2017.

All the offices carry a four-year term.

The move to establish voting wards based on a relatively even split of the population comes not in response to a current problem, but rather one that could happen.

Mayor James Nix has said officials are trying to avoid a scenario where all council members are elected from a single neighborhood or subdivision.

The proposed voting ward map was drawn based on 2010 U.S. Census figures and splits Clermont’s approximately 875 residents into four districts.

Other demographic breakdowns, such as race and ethnicity, or education and income levels, were not part of the formula.

“With such a small minority population that we have, we don’t have a minority ward, like some cities end up with,” Nix said.