Archived Story

Are charter changes the right decision?

Published 12:07am Sunday, August 18, 2013

The City of Natchez is considering two changes to its charter. A charter is a bit like the city’s constitution, and the Natchez Board of Aldermen are hoping to pass two amendments soon.

Effectively, the city is seeking to eliminate two citywide elected positions — city clerk and municipal judge.

The case against eliminating the city clerk’s position is a fairly straightforward one.

The city’s finances have become increasingly more and more complicated and, quite frankly, the elections process can be a popularity contest. The result is a city clerk can be elected without having the accounting background necessary to do the job.

By eliminating the elections process, city aldermen would be in a position to appoint a more qualified candidate based on a strict set of accounting criteria.

We’ve long supported such a change.

We were disappointed, however, that the aldermen decided to throw the municipal judge’s position under the proverbial bus, too.

Problems with the clerk’s office have been documented for years, but to our knowledge the city’s complaints with the municipal judge are relatively new. Mostly, it would seem, the concerns relate to aldermen being told, “no,” by the judge.

Residents will remember that earlier this year aldermen attempted to form their own environmental court, until the judge pointed out such a maneuver was not allowed.

Call us crazy, but this is one case in which we think having an elected judge, who should be independent from the politics of the aldermen, is a good thing. We support leaving the judge’s position alone.