Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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Gwinnett Daily Post
LAWRENCEVILLE - Senators voted Tuesday to take away the mayor's right to vote at Snellville City Council sessions.
The move, a charter change synthesized by Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, was intended to stop the gridlock at a city council stymied by 3-3 votes.
"The citizens of Snellville overwhelmingly believe that the city is in gridlock," the senator said. "Issues critical to the progress of this city are being left in a stalemate with no resolution. City government should be solving problems, not creating them."
Over the past month, Balfour has met with constituents and conducted polls on the issue. After considering adding or removing a council member to make the board's voting members an odd number, Balfour wrote a bill to take away the mayor's voting power after the upcoming November election.
This change would revert the city back to its original charter, where the mayor votes only in the case of a tie.
Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer, whose second term expires in two years, did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday, but he has said he would fight the change.
But while Balfour, the chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, can easily move a bill related to his city through the Senate, the city's House representative may block it from moving
Rep. Melvin Everson has said he would only move on the issue if a majority of the council directs him to do so.