The possibility of changing the city's constitution from one under "general law" to a "charter" system of governance has to be done in order for the city to have more options for its voting system.
However, making the switch could open the door to renegotiate an array of now unavailable opportunities to customize the city's governance code and affect other areas of the city.
And no matter how complex, any charter the city decides to take on, and any subsequent changes to it, would require voter approval before taking effect.
It would be theoretically possible to bring a limited charter document before voters — basically changing only the parts that apply to the city's election system — by November 2018, but it would be a massive undertaking with tight deadlines, according to Menlo Park's legal staff.
Councilman Rich Cline expressed surprise that the expedited timeline was even being considered. "I didn't think 2018 was a goal," he said. Knowing Menlo Park, the process will likely take longer than expected, he noted.
Several people who spoke publicly on the matter asserted that rather than rush to meet a November 2018 timeline, the city should instead aim to organize something more comprehensive for the 2020 ballot.
Jennifer Wolosin, who identified herself as part of a group called "Menlo Park Residents for Good Governance," said that "pausing might not be such a bad thing at this time."
That doesn't mean the city shouldn't start talking about the pros and cons in earnest, though, noted former planning commissioner John Kadvany in a public comment. "Let's have a discussion about what we think is best for the city in terms of voting practices," he said.
This story contains 334 words.
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