Beckley to become a City Manager based government

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY)- The Beckley City Council voted 4-3 in favor of transitioning from a strong mayor style of government to a city manager style.

To put this transition simply, the mayor will become a ceremonial figure head while the council and the city manager will be the policy makers and enforcers. Councilman of Ward I Tom Sopher explains what his constituents said after talking with them in various places around the city.

“After explaining a little bit about it, most of all agree to just do it,” said Sopher.

This decision did not come without criticism, as people from the public who attended the meeting voiced their opinions.

“What I’m asking you all to do is to table this measure, get the information campaign out, and let the residents decide, not the city council in 1954 and this city council now,” said a member of the public. “Please table this, put it on the ballot. Let the people decide what type of government they would like.”

Many people felt that their voice was not being heard and just wanted it to be on the ballot. Sherrie A. Hunter, Councilwoman at Large, agrees with them and that was why she voted against it.

“My opposition to the having a city manager is that I needed to be the voice for the many constituents that call me and said, ‘miss hunter, we really would like this to be on the ballot.’ and granted, there were multiple workshops about having a city manager, form of government, but the workshops had advocates for changing the city charter,” explained Hunter, “And a workshop the general public can listen, but they’re not able to make comments. So, I told many constituents and the common denominator with all of those people was that they wanted to be heard and they felt that their voice could be heard if it was on the ballot, one way or the other. And so therefore, that’s why I felt that our citizens need to be a part of that.”

This new form of government will be effective as of July 1st, 2024.

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