Idaho Falls’ City Council plans to wait a month before deciding whether to get rid of runoff elections for Council seats.
The Council had been scheduled to vote Thursday on an ordinance that would abolish runoffs for City Council seats while leaving them for the mayor’s position. However, the Council voted unanimously to table the proposal and take it up again at the Jan. 14 meeting.
Idaho Falls voters approved runoffs in a referendum in 2005, meaning that if a City Council or mayoral candidate doesn’t get a majority of votes cast the top two vote-getters will face off in a runoff a month later. The city has held two runoffs in that time — for three Council seats in 2013 and for mayor last year. Idaho Falls is one of eight or so cities that holds runoffs for mayor, but it is the only one in Idaho to do so for city council seats.
“We just wanted to make sure everybody had a chance to be able to discuss it with us,” Councilman John Radford, who made the motion to hold the ordinance, said after the meeting.
The proposal was introduced at a work session on Monday, with supporters pointing to the cost and lower turnout for runoffs among reasons to get rid of it. Radford said the council members discussed it and had reached a consensus that they should take more time to hear different opinions on it.
“We just want to make sure the issue gets out,” said Council President Tom Hally.
Hally and Radford said the Council may consider other possible changes to the ordinance, such as possibly holding a referendum on the issue again, or keeping Council runoffs but setting a vote threshold the runners-up would have to clear to hold one. If there were to be another vote, Hally said council members should be able to share their opinions on it with the public. He was on the Council in 2005, and he said that on the advice of the city’s then-attorneys council members didn’t campaign for or against the measure.