West hopes petition gets option on ballot

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 1999

If Rep. Phillip West has his way Adams County voters will decide whether the county’s school board will be elected or appointed.

Late Friday, West submitted a petition to the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s office urging the board of supervisors to put a referendum on the ballot of November’s general election.

&uot;We have submitted this so that the people can express their opinions,&uot; West said.

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West said the &uot;we&uot; he referred to is a collection of community and civic leaders that included elected officials. But West would not release the names of the organizing group.

The petition which West said is signed by more than 1,600 registered voters will be verified by the circuit clerk’s office on Tuesday.

Since the petition was turned in only minutes before the circuit clerk’s office closed, it was uncertain as to whether the referendum will make it onto the ballot.

&uot;This probably won’t get on the ballot for the November election because the process of making the ballots is almost done,&uot; said Wilbur Johnson, deputy circuit clerk.

But West was unfazed by Johnson’s statement.

&uot;As long as the petition has 1,500 voters on it, it’s up to the state to get it on the ballot,&uot; he said.

West said he hopes that if the issue gets on the ballot and passes that it will help convince legislators to change the current law requiring the board to be appointed.

West and others feel the current system in which school board members are appointed is unconstitutional for two reasons.

First, they say, since city residents can vote in both city and county elections city residents ultimately have more say in appointments. West feels this violates the &uot;one man, one vote&uot; principle.

Secondly, since the school board can levy taxes without having to get approval from an elected officials that county residents are being taxed without proper representation.