West Columbia voters set to decide on strong mayor referendum - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

West Columbia voters set to decide on strong mayor referendum

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WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

In the months ahead voters in West Columbia will face a big decision.

In the spring the city council voted to remove Mayor Joe Owens' authority to preside over meetings and executive sessions.

Now his supporters are one step closer to getting some of those powers back.

"It's definitely been phrased as a strong mayor and I'm okay with it," said Jimmy Brooks with West Columbia Voice.

Over a period of weeks the group collected more than 1,600 signatures aimed at giving Owens more executive powers.

"We all have one person at the end of the day that we all report to as a leader and having a leader in place there gives our department heads and our employees more of a coach or somebody they can come to," Brooks said.

Yet some members of the city council couldn't disagree more.

"I think it will be moving back instead of moving forward," West Columbia City Councilor Tem Miles told WIS in May. "If you have a one person who is a politician and they are placed in charge of all city administration, it brings a lot more politics into making personnel decisions."

Ultimately it'll be a question for city voters to decide, answered at the polls as to whether West Columbia should have a stronger mayor.

"We ought to keep in mind that we put him there and we should let him do his job that we voted to put him in," Brooks said.

Under state election law, a special election could come anytime between mid-August and mid-October.

Dean Crepes with the Lexington County Registration and Elections Office said it might end up on the ballot in September but the decision will rest with city council.

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