Charter Review Commission Hosts TeleTownhall

Dallas City Hall
Dallas City Hall | Image by City of Dallas

The City of Dallas Charter Review Commission hosted a TeleTownhall on Monday, allowing Dallas residents an opportunity to discuss proposed changes to the city charter with commission members.

During the event, participants participated in polls, gave feedback, and asked questions about the city charter.

The role of the 15-member Charter Review Commission is to review proposed amendments to the City Charter and determine which ones should be recommended to the city council for consideration. The commission seeks the input of city residents to ensure that the charter “reflects the needs and aspirations of the community,” a City news release stated.

The charter, “the foundational document that outlines the structure, powers, and functions of our city’s government,” must be reviewed every 10 years, according to the City’s website.

The TeleTownhall event was moderated by the Office of Government Affairs, with presentations from four Charter Review Commission members, including Patti Clapp (District 10), David de la Fuente (District 1), and Stuart Campbell (District 7). More than 3,500 people listened in on the call.

The commissioners said they are currently in the process of reviewing 125 different proposed amendments and have thus far advanced 31 of them for further consideration. Community members have been submitting proposed amendments to the commission since August.

Topics discussed included the City of Dallas’ notification and petition process, police oversight, eligible service on boards and commissions, ranked voting choice, and pay raises for council members. After discussing some of the proposed amendments, the TeleTownhall participants were asked to vote by phone to indicate their support or opposition to the various proposals.

The first question asked whether the voters supported adding language to the charter that increases the ways in which the City can post public notices. A majority of respondents — 74% — supported the change, while 14% voted against it and 12% voted “don’t know.”

Another poll question asked whether the number of days to obtain signatures on a petition should be extended from the current 60 days to a more generous 120 days. Most voters favored this proposed amendment, with 70% expressing support, 15% voting against it, and 15% voting “don’t know.”

The second part of the proposed petition amendment asked whether voters supported lowering the signature requirement from the current 10% to 5%. Participants were somewhat more divided on this question, with 56% voting in favor of lowering the required signatures, 33% voting no, and 11% voting “don’t know.”

Moving on to the topic of police oversight, voters were asked whether they supported having the director of the Office of Community Police Oversight report to the city council rather than the city manager. A little more than half of the respondents — 52% — supported the change, while 24% were opposed, and 24% voted “don’t know.”

Voters then were asked whether or not they supported changing the charter to allow residents to serve on the charter boards and commission without regard to voter registration status, meaning non-U.S. citizens would be eligible. More than 1 in 5 voters — 22% — supported the measure, 70% voted against it, and 8% voted “don’t know.”

The next topic focused on ranked-choice voting. When asked if they preferred ranked choice voting or general runoff elections. Ranked-choice voting was preferred by 31%, while 55% preferred the current general runoff election system, and 15% voted “don’t know.”

The second part of this question asked if voters supported adding a trigger clause to the charter so that the next full elections in Dallas would be a ranked-choice voting process once state law permits. The response was similar to the previous question, with 32% in favor of adding the trigger clause, 49% against it, and 18% voting “don’t know.”

The meeting concluded with a discussion of council member salaries and whether the respondents felt that the current council salaries, at $60,000 for council members and $80,000 for the mayor, were too high, too low, or just right. Just over half (51%) of the poll participants said the current salaries were too low, 42% voted just right, and 6% thought they were too high.

Voters were asked whether they felt raising salaries to $125,000 for council members and $140,000 for the mayor was too low, too high, or just right. Four percent of respondents felt that such a salary increase would be too low, 44% said it would be just right, and 52% said it would be too high.

Respondents were also asked whether the mayor’s and the council members’ salaries should be tied to the consumer price index so that salaries would be automatically adjusted for inflation. Voters were rather divided, with 44% in favor of the change, 39% against it, and 17% voting “don’t know.”

To learn more about the potential amendments, click here.

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