CLARKSVILLE — The Clarksville Town Council meeting on Monday began and ended on the topic of district voting, and the topic remains unresolved.
It began with public comments from resident Tom DeArk and former council candidate Rick Riggle, who both spoke strongly in favor of district voting in the wake of three public comment sessions held by the town last week. It ended with a 3-3 vote, with an abstention by Councilman Bob Polston.
Currently, citizens in the town vote in all seven council races. The change would make it so that citizens would only vote for the council race in their district and at-large races.
The vote on district voting came at the end of the meeting Monday as the councilmen were offering their comments. Freshman Councilman Paul Fetter offered a motion that the town draft an ordinance to make the change. After getting a second from fellow freshman Councilman Tim Hauber, the vote ended in a tie with Fetter, Hauber and Council President John Gilkey — also a first-time councilman — in favor, and Bob Popp, Paul Kraft and Don Tetley opposed.
Polston — also a first-year council member — declined to cast a vote, and Clerk-Treasurer Bob Leuthart declined to break the tie. Polston cited his lack of knowledge for how his constituents feel about the issue for his abstention after the meeting.
“If I get the majority of the people to tell me they want district voting, I have no problem,” Polston said. “Right now, I didn’t want to kill it. I could have. I voted an abstention so it could be brought back up.”Hauber seconded Fetter’s motion before the vote. Hauber said that making the switch from town-wide voting to voting by district was one of the primary reasons he campaigned to become a councilman.
“If you surveyed 1,000 [town residents], 700 would be in favor of district voting, 300 opposed,” Hauber said.
Popp, Tetley and Kraft made their way out of the council chambers for a work session after the meeting and were not immediately available for comment.
Before the vote on a switch to district-wide voting, Polston offered a motion to form a committee to explore changing Clarksville’s government to a city structure, and to put the issue of governance by town or city on the next municipal ballot. The motion carried unanimously.
“We don’t have to do this for three years and four months,” Polston said. “Just like I made a motion tonight to put it on a ballot and let the people decide whether we’re getting ready to go for a different change in going to a city or a town — they’ll have that choice the same way with district voting.”
“I made the commitment when I ran, it was part of my platform, and that’s why I voted in favor of it tonight,” Gilkey explained. “I don’t think the vote is truly representative of the will of the council. I think that there were concerns about whether or not we’re doing things in the right order.”
“The issue of should Clarksville become a city — I’ve raised that for a couple of months, and now we’re going to create a committee to look at that. If we become a city, it’s automatic that you go to district voting. But the process needs to be looked at. We need to know what the new districts are going to be, how many districts we’re going to have — some of the concerns that Mr. Polston was talking about, those need to be answered I think, to make the rest of the council feel comfortable about things.”
NEW LAYER FOR TOWN GIS MAP
The council unanimously approved a contract not to exceed $18,000 with Information Systems to add a new layer to the town’s geographic information systems software to give the street department the ability to label curbs, sidewalks, street signs, gutters and potholes.
“There’s a lot of opportunities with it,” Street Commissioner Brad Cummings said.
The council unanimously approved a contract with Redwing Geological Services for $27,900 for a permit package for a new stormwater discharge line.
The contract is all-inclusive unless an archaological site is discovered, town Project Coordinator Brittany Montgomery said.
The stormwater discharge will technically be in a different area from the site of the town’s new effluent line, and therefore needs to be permitted separately, Montgomery said.
TSI AWARDED FORCE MAIN CONTRACT
The town approved a contract for $38,940 to TSI Contracting for the construction of a force main along Lincoln Drive.
TSI was the only responsive bidder to the request for proposal.
PARADE ORGANIZERS RECOGNIZED
Gilkey distributed certificates of recognition to organizers of the parade along Eastern Boulevard that took place on Labor Day.