How to Defeat a City Council

City councils affect many areas of our every day lives. But what happens when you get stuck with a bad city council? Is it possible to defeat a city council, or are you stuck with them for the entirety of the term?

What Is a City Council?

City council members go by many different names. In your city, they might go by councilmember, alderman, selectman, freeholder, trustee, or commissioner. Once elected, a councilmember usually serves four years per term. The size of a city council varies and is proportionate to the population of the city they serve. They have a myriad of responsibilities, ranging from annual budgets to public health and safety regulations.

What happens when you find yourself stuck with a bad city council for four years? What do you do then?

Although it may feel like your options are limited, have some hope! If you are dissatisfied with your city council, you might not have to sit back and suffer. You can take it to the voters, yourself included, and let them decide.  

Maybe you’re asking, “How can I take it to the voters when the councilmembers are already elected?” The answer is simple: the initiative process.

While this process looks different depending on the state involved, the general idea is the same. When councilmembers are unsatisfactory, many states allow people to recall them.  Some states require the councilmembers to be in office for a certain amount of time. Other states require certain grounds for dismissal, like misconduct or a felony. The common theme, however, is that most states allow their voters to have a voice about unsatisfactory councilmembers.

When trying to recall a councilmember or city council, there are things to consider. You’ll need to file an initiative petition for the recall. Many states have a time limit for gathering signatures on this petition. The time limits in different states can range from 14 days to 180 days. The number of signatures needed can also vary from state to state. The population is usually the determining factor for these limits, but it helps to work with someone who knows the rules.

What If I Don’t Want a Total Recall?

Maybe you don’t want to completely recall a city council, but you still disagree with a decision they made. What do you do then?

At this point, the answer is probably no surprise: beat them through the initiative process! The initiative process is your best option when councilmembers make a decision that negatively affects you or your business. While you do have the option to sue them, it’s not often effective. When it comes to politics, it’s best to beat them at their own game. 

Say your councilmembers made the call to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, and you disagree with that decision. Maybe you want to open a dispensary, or you just think they made the wrong decision. You could sue them and hope that the legal system supports you, or you could create an initiative. By creating an initiative, you take the issue to the ballot and, ultimately, to the people. Once the issue is on the ballot, the voters can decide what happens next.

Using the Initiative Process to Your Advantage

When trying to defeat a city council, it’s important to note that each state has different requirements for getting initiatives on the ballot. While most states do allow citizens to file initiative petitions, the rules still vary. Some states require more signatures, while some require large sums of money.

When you’re trying to defeat a city council, there are a lot of things that you’ll be thinking about. The last thing you want on your mind is whether you followed all the necessary steps for your state. That’s why we can’t stress enough how important it is to work with a team that gets it. When the company you work with understands the ins and outs of the initiative process, it changes the game. The company focuses on the logistics of getting your initiative on the ballot, while you focus on what that initiative is. Once it’s on the ballot, all that’s left to do is let the voters decide.

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