The Central City Council deferred an introduced ordinance Tuesday night to establish a five-member council from single-member districts.
The action came at the request of Mayor Shelton “Mac” Watts.
It took discussion during and after the meeting, however, to get the five council members — all elected at-large — before reaching an agreement.
Councilman Louis DeJohn proposed the ordinance that would have been aired at a July 12 public hearing.
Watts, however, made a presentation at the start of the meeting that DeJohn had agreed to defer the proposal if the other four council members agreed to not propose anymore ordinances dealing with council districts until a more public process could be held.
“I’ve heard much over the past few weeks about districts and I don’t believe we’re ready for this yet,” Watts said.
Watts said he wanted to step back from discussing the issue until more research could be done and town hall meetings held to get a better idea of what residents would prefer to see on city council elections.
Members Ralph Washington, Aaron Moak and Tony LoBue agreed to not introduce any other ordinances until there was more research.
Councilman Wayne Messina said during the meeting, however, he would have to talk to his attorney and to Watts because it appeared that the work and recommendation of a committee looking at districts was being disregarded.
Messina, chairman of the committee charged with looking at the district concept, said the panel recommended going with five districts plus two at-large members who could live anywhere in the city.
Instead of that being offered and discussed at the meeting, however, another ordinance that included five districts only was introduced.
“I don’t understand this process right now. I don’t understand it,” Messina said.
Not considering the committee’s recommendation showed disrespect to members who volunteered their time to do the work, he said.
“I’m going to reserve my decision until I sit down and speak with you, Mr. Mayor,” Messina said.
Watts said there was no disrespect intended, and the committee’s work was a good first step, but more research is needed.
DeJohn and Messina spoke after the meeting and before they left the building Messina said although he was still upset, he agreed with the other members to not introduce any districting ordinances yet.