On Monday, the Scottsboro City Council discussed a local act that would change municipal elections to follow in line with a state bill that was recently passed. The state bill moved municipal elections away from the Presidential election cycle, adding a term to certain cities. This state bill left out seven municipalities due to local acts in place, Scottsboro being one of those municipalities.
“What is the problem with being left out? Well, our clerk does an absolutely wonderful job with elections but she receives support from lead municipalities and assistance from other clerks that would not be available if we’re having elections at a different time,” city attorney Stephen Kennamer said. “You also have a problem with printing companies handling the ballots, balloting companies and counters. Price difference is if you’re going to just have one small town have an election, you’re going to pay a lot more for voting machines and printing than you are with every city in the state pretty much is involved with elections.”
After meeting with multiple legislatures, Kennamer spoke with the head of the legislative reference services, who provided Kennamer a new local act to propose, which would put Scottsboro on the same cycle as the state while maintaining the current staggered terms for city council and board of education. Under this bill, Mayor Jim McCamy and places one and two on the city council would receive a fifth year to their term, while places three, four and five on the city council would serve a five-year term after the next election.
“The statewide act goes into effect 2024, which is when the next statewide municipal election is supposed to be, that changes it to 2025, which means anybody holding office in the state unless you’re in seven different cities, you get an extra year added to your term. Well, we can’t just go ahead and add an extra year to your terms because of the way the Constitution reads, but what this act does is after the 2022 election, the persons elected to the council in that race would serve a five-year term, then so forth and so on. Ultimately, making the mayor [Jim McCamy] serve a five-year term, [council members Nita Tolliver and Ralph Dawe] serving a five-year term and everyone else holding office at the school board’s term being extended by one more year so everyone is on that same, new cycle. He said that he believed that was the simplest way to handle it, I believe he’s probably right. The act, if passed by the legislature provides for runoff four weeks later under the current law, election runoffs are six weeks later. It’s been that way since the 1991 Gulf War. The reason why is that servicemen could not get their ballots back in time. With the decrease in the number of overseas conflicts, the legislature determined that six weeks is changed to four weeks. This [act] puts it at four weeks also unless it doesn’t pass, then we’ll still be dealing with six weeks here. It’s trying to fix other people’s problems. We have a perfectly fine system working but the legislature felt it was best to get off the Presidential cycle because of voter fatigue, election official fatigue, an inability to handle things with all of the elections you have in a Presidential year and a municipal year. This gets us back in sync with those other 450-something cities if passed.”
The city council will vote next week to proceed with the act, beginning four consecutive weeks of advertisement of the bill before holding a special session in September or October, according to McCamy.