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City of Richmond looking at charter change

By Betsy Dolan

A committee formed to investigate whether the City of Richmond should change the city’s charter, has given its unanimous support to the plan.

The Richmond Charter Committee approved the change from the existing “general law charter” to a “home rule charter” at a meeting on January 14.

General Law is an older charter form generally for smaller cities and limits annexation powers. Home rule, allows cities to draft an independent city charter once it exceeds 5,000 people and the voters agree.

Former Richmond Mayor Hilmar Moore, who passed away in December, initiated the charter change discussion.

A committee of 15 people, selected by Moore and the two city commissioners have been meeting since October.

But 35-year Richmond resident Carlos Garcia has attended some of the meetings and has reservations about how the process is being conducted.

Garcia supports the charter change and the city’s plans to annex property along U.S. 90A and FM 359 but says the city needs to expand its representation to reflect the city’s demographics.

“You have to grow and the charter change gives them the power to do that,” Garcia said. “But having just three people on the city commission isn’t good for the city. Money shouldn’t be controlled by three people.”

Currently Richmond has a mayor, two city commissioners, and a city manager, Teri Vela. The “Star” was unable to reach Vela for comment on this article.

In addition to a more diverse city commission, Garcia wants the new charter to include term limits, single member districts and November elections.

The charter committee will hold another meeting this week.

Any change to a city’s charter must be approved by the Department of Justice.

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