Group presses for change in Hope's city government

Group presses for change in Hope's city government
(Source: Fred Gamble/KSLA News 12)
(Source: Fred Gamble/KSLA News 12)
(Source: Fred Gamble/KSLA News 12)

HOPE, AR (KSLA) - A group of Southwest Arkansas residents is petitioning leaders to change the way city hall is governed. Now the decision for a change or not will be determined by voters.

Since 1958 the city of Hope has operated under a city manager form of government. A professional manager supervises the operations of all city departments but answers to the Mayor and the City Board of Directors.

For more than two decades Katherine Cook has served as City Manager.

"I am going to do all I can in my legal ability to destroy this government we have in Hope," said Hope resident, Mark Smith.

The group "Citizens for Change — Hope, Arkansas" says it is time to do away with this type of government. The group has presented the city with a petition asking for a vote on the matter.

"So our petition will create an elected mayor that will be subject to the people every four years the same way that every other public official is," said Blake Montgomery, a member of Citizens for Change — Hope, Arkansas.

The petition was given to city leaders last Thursday and in pack fill council chamber today directors decided to hold an election on this issue sometime in June.

"This is not something to be taken lightly," said Mayor Steve Montgomery. "It is not something I want to be rushed into. I think the citizens deserve a chance to hear from it to learn from it, have questions (and) have a good debate about it."

But, according to mayor Kiffinea Talley, a Hope City Board Member, it will take six years for the form of government to switch.

"This election will turn out to be the upper-class versus the rest of us," Blake Montgomery said.

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