No matter your political affiliation, you have likely wanted to fire an elected representative in your time.
Impeachments, no-confidence votes, and coups d’etat have been used to depose leaders who have run afoul of the electorate but in Jackson, voters have to wait until the next election or end of a 4-year term to react to buyer’s remorse.
That could all be history if a petition to change the form of municipal government gets enough signatures to call a special election.
In Wyoming, three forms of municipal government are recognized under state law.
Jackson uses the Mayor Council form of government where the elected officials act as the CEO of the town.
Other cities, like Casper, utilize the Town Manager form where the CEO, on behalf of the elected officials, is manager or administrator.
A third form, unused in the state, is called the commission form of government.
According to the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, the elective officers of a city or town adopting the commission form of government are a mayor, a commissioner of finance and public property, and a commissioner of streets and public improvements. The term of the mayor is four years and each commissioner is two years and each position is elected at large
Two members of the body must be present before any business can be conducted. Each member has one vote on all matters presented. Unless a greater number of votes is specified, all matters require an affirmative vote of two of the members for passage.
All motions, ordinances, and resolutions must be written and read before a vote is taken. Every vote of each member must be recorded. Every ordinance or resolution must be signed either by the mayor or the two commissioners and recorded before it is effective.
The power and duties of the governing body under this form of government are similar to those of the council in the mayor-council form. In addition to its normal legislative functions, it hires any other officers and assistants as provided by ordinance, and may terminate any officer at any time by majority vote of the body. The mayor administers the department of public affairs and safety. The mayor is the president of the governing body and presides at all meetings. He or she has one vote on all matters, but has no veto power. The commissioner of finance and public property administers the departments of accounts, finance, parks and recreation, and public property. He or she is vice president of the governing body and performs the duties of the mayor in his/her absence. The commissioner of streets and public improvements administers the departments of streets and public improvements.
To change to this kind of system, the community only needs to vote. According to WAM, a petition for a special election to change the form of government must be submitted to the city or town clerk. The petition must be signed by 15% of those electors who voted at the last preceding municipal election, and must be submitted no later than 120 days before the next regular municipal primary election. (The exception to this rule is no petition can be
filed within four years after the establishment of the existing form of government.)
If the petition is determined by the city clerk to be legal, the mayor shall proclaim a special election on the question.
If the majority of votes cast are in favor of the proposed new form of government, the municipality shall, at the next municipal primary and general elections, nominate and elect officers under the new form of government. Once these officers are elected and qualified, the municipality shall be governed by the new form of government.
One of the hallmarks of the commission type government is the ability for the public to be able to remove an elected official through a referendum, a provision not allowed by any other municipal governance system.
Under the commission form of municipal government in Wyoming, any elected officer may be removed at any time by the qualified electors in the following manner: a petition signed by at least twenty-five percent (25%) of all the registered electors and demanding an election of a successor of the person sought to be removed shall be filed with the city clerk. The petition shall contain a general statement of the grounds for removal.
Any person sought to be removed may be a candidate to succeed himself, and unless he requests otherwise in writing at least ten days prior to the date of the special primary election, the clerk shall place his name on the official ballot without nomination. On the second Tuesday preceding the date fixed for the special election, a special primary election for the selection of candidates shall be held. The special primary election and nomination are governed by the provisions of this article. If the person sought to be removed is a candidate, one opposing candidate shall be selected at the special primary election. The special primary election shall be held if there are more than two nominees, one of whom may be incumbent. If there are no candidates nominated against the officer sought to be removed, no special election will be held and the incumbent shall continue in office.
In any removal election the candidate receiving the highest number of votes is elected. The incumbent shall be removed from office upon the qualification of his successor, who shall hold office during the unexpired portion of the term for which his predecessor was elected. If the person who receives the highest number of votes fails to qualify within ten days after receiving notification of election the office is vacant. This method of removal is in addition to any other methods provided by law.
Could Jackson be governed by a commission? Yes, it’s only a few hundred signatures away.