Ashland ballot measure puts administration change to a vote

ASHLAND, Ore.– Ashland residents will have a lot to consider on this year’s May ballot. On top of proposals for a county-wide jail bond and a city hall revitalization bond, voters will have to decide whether to change who’s in charge of the city.

Come May, Ashland will decide whether to have a strong-mayor form of government or a strong city manager. Currently, Ashland does not have a city manager.

According to Ashland City Councilor Julie Akins, a strong-mayor government typically means the mayor, which is a volunteer position in Ashland, makes many decisions and decides what’s on the agenda. In the city manager form of government, the city manager, who is a paid employee, would take on the day-to-day operations and answer to city council.

“The people behind it wanted to look at this a few years ago and opted out,” said Akins. “And now they just feel ready that they want a city more professionally managed.”

According to Akins, proponents of the measure put it forth to the council for a vote rather than attempt to petition for signatures. Councilors later approved the measure for the ballot.

If the initiative passes, it’s believed the current city administrator would fulfill the new role as city manager. Kelly Madding, Ashland’s City Administrator, declined to comment, saying city staff were unable to since the measure has already moved to the ballot.

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