The November 2 election will determine the new St. Petersburg mayor and new councilmembers, but voters will also get the chance to change the city charter, something that only happens once every 10 years.
In 2021, there are seven amendments to consider.
Amendment 1: Limiting City Council Elections to Voters in the Applicable Council District and Making Related Changes
In primaries, only voters in each district may vote for St. Petersburg City Council candidates running in that district; however, the general elections are citywide – meaning, any voter in the city may vote for candidates of all districts. This amendment would change the charter to eliminate citywide voting for council candidates.
Voters will also decide if a candidate receives more than 50% of the votes in the primary (first round election) then they will win by default.
Amendment 2: Establishing New Process for Drawing District Boundaries for Election of City Council Members
The second amendment would draw new district boundaries on voting zones for city council seats. The city says this change would provide a fairer system of representation.
The specific boundary lines would be voted on by an appointed redistricting commission.
“The new process would occur every ten years and maintain the existing nine-member citizens commission appointed by the mayor and council members,” the city states in the official report.
Amendment 3: Establishing an Equity Framework and Chief Equity Officer for City Government Establishing a Requirement for Charter-protected Equity Funding
Voters will get the chance to vote yes or no to an added “equity framework” into the City of St. Petersburg. The added infrastructure will be composed of an equity action plan and create a Chief Equity Officer position to ensure equality in the city.
“Analysis of demographic and economic data for Pinellas County indicates that the region’s economy would benefit from eliminating equity gaps based on race, ethnicity, or other immutable characteristics,” the city states.
The city would regularly assess and report on the created framework.
Amendment 4: Establishing a Requirement for Charter-Protected Equity Funding
Limiting equity gaps isn’t exactly a concrete plan, but with a “yes” vote, the city’s new administration would require funding on equity-related issues.
The appointed “charter-protected equity funding” will not be used for anything other than addressing equity gaps.
Amendment 5: Establishing New Requirements Related to City Administrator, City Clerk and City Council Administrative Office
This amendment addresses and potentially changes the role of the city administrator, the city clerk and the city council administrative officer.
For one, the city administrator will be required to be a St. Petersburg resident. The changes would also state that the city clerk works for both the mayor and city council, and can be removed if both parties agree.
The city council administrative officer would be appointed duties and protections similar to the city clerk.
Amendment 6: Changing the City’s Charter-review Process to Avoid Conflict with Redistricting and Make Other Improvements
This charter amendment was created to amend a scheduling issue between the charter-review process and the system for redrawing district boundaries.
Both happen every 10 years.
“Issues occur when the charter-review process changes the process for redrawing city council districts because the two processes are scheduled to occur almost simultaneously,” the city states.
A “yes” vote would move the charter-review process to years that end with nine; both would still occur every 10 years.
Amendment 7: Adding a Preamble to Describe the Spirit of the Charter and the City’s Governing Philosophy
Perhaps the most whimsical of the amendments, voters will decide whether or not to add a preamble to the city’s charter, an “aspirational statement” that would “describe the city’s vision, goals, values, and priorities while acknowledging past shortcomings and promising a renewed and continuing commitment to improving the quality of life for all citizens,” the city states.
Find more information, sample ballots, polling places or request a mail-in ballot at votepinellas.com.