Council by districts makes ballot

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The Michigan Court of Appeals today overturned last week’s Wayne County Circuit Court ruling and ordered that the question of whether to elect the majority of the Detroit city council by district be put to voters.

“The citizens of the city of Detroit are entitled to have the proposal placed on the ballot,” the order read, issued by Judges Michael Talbot, Kurtis Wilder and Christopher Murray.

In an emergency appeal filed today, the group Detroiters for City Council by Districts had asked the higher court to consider the issue after Wayne County Judge Virgil Smith last week dismissed the group’s suit against City Clerk Janice Winfrey.

After the group collected and submitted signatures to have the question considered in the Nov. 3 election, Winfrey said the proposed ballot language lacked clarity and refused to put it on the ballot. The Detroit City Council, rather than hammer out new language, last week discussed several objections — such as how the proposal would mesh with other language in the city charter — and asked the Attorney General’s office to review the proposal for a second time.

The Court of Appeals panel agreed that the petition language was indeed insufficient, but that Winfrey should have placed it on the ballot.

The question reads:

Shall the Detroit City Charter be amended to provide for a total of nine members of City Council with one (1) council member, with district residency, elected from each of seven (7) districts and two (2) members elected at large.

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