Help fix Snellville's gridlock

In recent weeks, I have received numerous e-mails and phone calls about a situation best described as "city council gridlock" in Snellville. Many residents and voters living in one of Gwinnett's largest cities tell me they are dissatisfied with the institutional gridlock in Snellville and how the community's needs are being addressed.

In 2004, the legislature changed the city charter to allow the mayor to vote on all issues before the city council. The problem it created was by adding the additional vote, six people would vote on any given issue.

This change resulted in an even number of elected officials voting on proposals, which has led to regular 3-3 votes. It has meant gridlock for the city. Of the 14 cities in Gwinnett, 12 have an odd number of voting members. Because of this structure, these cities seem to run with much less confrontation and gridlock.

As a result of having so many people contact me, I have agreed to help host a community meeting at the Snellville City Hall from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. today.

The purpose of the meeting will be to find solutions to the situation to make the city government more effective. It's past time to find those solutions.

Every single Snellville resident is invited. This is designed to be a positive meeting for all residents, not a forum for arguing or debate. We will explore options, including, but not limited to, adding one new city council seat, eliminating one city council seat or changing the city charter to allow the mayor to vote only in the case of tie votes.

I want to hear from those who live in the city about what, if anything, we should do to address the issue of gridlock and maybe bring an end to the recent incendiary media headlines.

It has been my privilege to serve you and move forward with the business you elect me to address. I look forward to hearing from you tonight.

Don Balfour is a state senator from Snellville.