Community activist Erin Bennett has reportedly filed three voter initiatives with the City Clerk Teresa Harris that would oust the city’s at-large representatives on the Logan City Council.
LOGAN – The first step in a campaign to unseat Logan’s at-large city council members has begun.
Community activist Erin Bennett reported that she filed three voter initiatives with City Clerk Teresa Harris on June 16. If those proposals are accepted and Bennett is able to collect 1,700 signatures of registered voters by April 15, 2023, they will be placed on the ballot of the next municipal election.
If approved by the city’s voters, each member of the Logan city council will represent one of five voter districts consisting of five precincts each.
To qualify as a candidate, city council prospects would have to reside in the neighborhood in which they are running. Additionally, voters will only be allowed to vote for candidates in their neighborhood district, thus ending the practice of at-large voting for elective offices.
Bennett believes her plan will reorganized the Logan City Council and create a framework for more elective leadership.
Perennial city candidate Keegan Garrity noted that action on this issue is long overdue.
In April of 2022, Garrity observed that it has been 900 days since the city council was presented with a proposal to create geographical districts for each of its seats. A decision has yet to be made.
At-large representation has been the rule on the Logan City Council since 2009. Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of Logan’s population lives west of Main Street in the Bridger, Ellis and Woodruff neighborhoods, there has never been more than one council member from the city’s west side on the municipal panel in the past 13 years.
Since his election to the city council in 2018, west side resident Jess Bradfield – now the Cache County clerk/auditor — was a vocal advocate for a return to voter district representation.
At a contentious meeting in October 2019, Bradfield urged city council members to adopt an ordinance implementing by-district election of council members.
The other council members argued that Bradfield’s proposal was ill-timed so close to a municipal election, but agreed to appoint a city subcommittee to study the issue.
In a report delivered to the city council in January of 2021, representatives of five of the city’s six neighborhoods supported the idea that implementing by-district voting would facilitate broader representation on the city council.
The members of the Voter District Subcommittee were Sherilyn Wilson from the Bridger neighborhood, Gail Yost from the Wilson neighborhood, Garrity from the Woodruff neighborhood, Craig Christensen from the Ellis Neighborhood, Kent Field from the Hillcrest neighborhood and Tiffany Vail from the Adams neighborhood.
But the city council members don’t consider that report to be binding.
Playing devil’s advocate, council member Tom Jensen acknowledged that voting by districts would make it easier for a candidate to canvass his or her neighborhood on foot.
But council member Mark Anderson questioned whether making it easier for candidates to run for the city council is a valid reason for Logan to change to district voting.
While the city’s council members have largely ignored the issue in recent months, Bennett is determined to leave that question up to municipal voters in 2023.
Bennett’s proposed initiatives also stipulate that city council members would serve as chairs of the already existing neighborhood councils.
They would also be required to hold neighborhood council meetings once a month and to report on items of interest at each meeting of the Logan City Council within three days via an e-mail newsletter.
Bennett said that her initiatives have been referred to County Attorney John Luthy for review.