CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston City Council took its first step toward altering the, municipal election cycle with the introduction of a bill that would shorten members' terms by six months after the 2015 election.
The bill, which aims to align the city's election with the offyear state-run election in 2018, was introduced Monday during the council meeting.
Council Majority Leader Jack Harrison, a Democrat representing the ward around Corridor G, believes the bill is a "good move."
"It could end up saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars," Harrison said.
Charleston has to pay poll workers for city elections and some city workers are also given the day off, Harrison said.
Council would still incur an expense for elections that "piggyback" on state elections, but the cost would be significantly less, he said.
"We'd still have to pay to have our races on the county's ballots," Harrison said.
Harrison sponsored the bill along with Council President Tom Lane, an at-large Republican. Lane also believes the bill would benefit the city and its voters.
"If we can get the city election to totally jive with the state elections, we would see a lot more people turn out to vote," Lane said. "And that's a good thing."
The bill came about as a result of the controversy that arose when some city leaders promoted the idea of holding non-partisan elections, Mayor Danny Jones said. This effort died in 2011 because of stiff resistance among the rank and file council members.
Jones also supports the new measure, which he also believes will end up saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in election costs over the years.
"And it will keep us from inconveniencing the schools," Jones added.
City elections are not a holiday and schools remain in session. However, many of the polling places are located in schools, meaning voters have to enter the buildings while class is in session.
Jones also addressed the possibility of having a higher voter turnout by holding the elections during an off-year state race.
"I hope this increases turnout," he said.
The idea is to hold city elections between presidential elections in order to keep partisan politics to a minimum, Jones said.
Jones, Lane and Harrison all believe the measure will pass.