Iola’s voters call loudly for change now, not in 2011

Tuesday’s overwhelming vote to change Iola’s form of government was a loud demand for our community to take a new direction.
It would have been a surprise to most if the decision to move from a three-person commission to a nine-person council and mayor system had passed by a handful of votes. No one alive can remember when Iola adopted the commission form of government. And the pattern in Iola, as it is in most voting jurisdictions, is to stick with what works.
Tuesday’s vote broke that pattern and testified to the intensity of the demand for something different, something better.
Because that mandate was so strongly supported, the Commission is to be commended for promising the people to move faster than current law allows. The Kansas League of Municipalities says that the earliest that a special election to elect councilmen and a mayor can be held is April 2011.
Current law — if it truly does force the people to wait two years for their will to be worked — can and should be changed or superceded.
Perhaps there is not time in the 2009 session to pass a special law permitting Iola to change as its citizens so eagerly want it to change. The lawmakers are now in recess and will come back later to complete the budget and vote on vetos. But maybe a special bill also could be considered.
A bill can be written that applies only to Iola. This is a long-standing tactic used to deal with special circumstances that only affect a particular city or county. Special legislation could allow Iola to hold a second election within months rather than years.
Rep. Bill Otto and Sen. Derek Schmidt should be urged to help Iola follow the dictates of its voters in a timely fashion.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.

N.B. The crusade to enlarge Iola’s city government succeeded because Jim Talkington and those who worked with him set it in motion and followed through. Lesson taught: a few people with an idea determined to achieve their goal can make all the difference. Democracy works.