News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Detroit charter change appears to pass by 9

Measure 24-499, the Detroit city charter amendment on the May 21 ballot, has passed.

Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess, the county’s top elections official, told The Canyon Weekly via email on June 5 that his totals show the measure leading 42-33. 

Burgess also reported that “since all the ballots for this measure have been accounted for and since there are no signature issues to cure in this race, it is safe to assume that the Detroit City Charter measure has passed.”

Burgess added that he cannot officially call the race until certification, which must occur between June 11 and June 17, according to election statutes, but that “nevertheless, those in favor of this measure can safely celebrate today.”

The key charter change is the elimination of residency restrictions for council and mayoral participation. The previous language called for a council in which two members can be part-time residents and five must be full-time residents. 

Backers of the change thought the clause should be changed because it reduces the volunteer pool of interested property owners, full or part time, to be involved in city government. Supporters, led by Councilor Denny Nielsen, also noted that the city has changed as a result of the 2020 wildfires and that rebuilding Detroit, both commercially and residentially, will be an ongoing project for several years to come.

“We have many new property owners who are investing in our city and who have the needed skills, time and interest to contribute to our recovery efforts and our rebuilding vision,” Nielsen said during the campaign.

Nielsen also released a statement June 5 to The Canyon Weekly:

“We are pleased with the outcome which, I believe, was the result of successful community outreach by our team,” Nielsen wrote. “We will make every effort to work in a fashion that clearly demonstrates the benefits of the charter updates in terms of a more effective and representative City Council.”

Measure 24-499 was essentially the same as one that failed on a 55-51 vote in November 2022. There was no organized opposition to the change for either election.

In addition to the residency requirement the ballot measure also tweaks the charter’s language to meet the model code established by the League of Oregon Cities and removes gender-exclusive references.

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