Broward Charter Review Commission
The League made the following statement at a public hearing on June 22, 2017. The Charter Review Commission is empowered to place amendments to Broward’s charter (its constitution) on the ballot for the November 2018 election. This commission meet every 12 years.
Stephanie Pearson, vice president of the Broward League, represented the League of Women Voters of Broward County at the meeting.
The League of Women Voters is a 97 year old organization that is non-partisan and is widely respected for taking positions on issues only after conducting objective, comprehensive studies. We follow our basic principles of good government – that government be efficient, economical, democratic, non-discriminatory, and work toward the betterment of our community.
In Broward County, the League has studied county government since the 1960s. We were instrumental in the adoption of the County Charter which went into effect in 1975. In 1983, we did a comprehensive study of county government.
Our position developed in 1984 calls for
- Countywide election of a county executive
- Professional administrator appointed by the executive to run daily operations
- Single member districts for commission seats
This structure provides for a true separation of powers with checks and balances and fair representation and also provides for strong leadership.
We have a professional administrator which we fully support and since 2000 we have had a single member district commission.
What is missing is crucial. It is the countywide election of an elected executive. Without that strong leader we have an unbalanced system which holds us back as a county. Who is working for the County as a whole? Who is laying out a vision and focusing on policy? Who is providing consistency in dealings with our cities?
Why we need an elected executive:
- We need a spokesperson for the county that is accountable to all the people. Counties today must work with other counties, our cities, the state, the federal government, private entities, and some international groups. We need strong leadership to speak officially and consistently for the county.
- We need one person to be accountable to all the voters and be visible.
- We need a person to project an image of Broward County to other levels of government and the private sector. We need a point person to attract businesses and events and negotiate with other entities.
- We need an elected executive to help dilute parochialism.
- We need an elected executive to offer fiscal/management initiatives, prepare the budget, and implement policy adopted by the commission.
Currently the position of mayor is a rotating position among our single member district commissioners. Among the problems of this arrangement is that – 1) it short changes the constituents of that person’s district, as their time as Mayor takes away from working for their district and 2) the acting Mayor doesn’t really represent all the voters as he or she is only elected by 1/9 of the voters.
Under our current system the professional administrator has a difficult job made all the more difficult as she has 9 bosses. It is difficult to forge consensus among the commissioners. With an elected executive structure the PA would serve in the executive branch making her even more effective.
We are a large county with almost 2 million people, larger than 15 states. What we have now in Broward County is government by committee. It is like a multi-billion dollar corporation with a Board of Directors and no CEO or like a state without a Governor. We need an elected executive elected by the entire county to help provide leadership, vision, and long range planning and balance our single member district commission.
In 1993 we held a workshop with experts and joined a coalition of more than 20 organizations calling for change. Every year since, the LWVBC has affirmed our position.
This Charter Review Commission will not meet again for 12 years. This is an opportunity to offer voters a system that will best serve Broward County into the future. We ask for your support.