Should Fall River Change The Current Form Of Municipal Government?

A Fall River City Council session will take place this evening at 6 p.m.


Among the items that could be considered is a set of changes to the current form of a municipal government. If the current mayor, city council, great and general court and Fall River voter all agree it could become a city manager, mayor and deputy mayor form. 


The mayor and deputy mayor would be part of the city council and likely part of the school committee.


"This change would make the mayor that chairman of the board of both the city council and school committee,” Committee Chair of a Special Task Force and City Councilor Steve Camara explained.  “The deputy mayor would be the second in the absence of the chairman of the board.”


Camara also went on to describe how the process could change for those two positions when it comes to the ballot. 


“That duo, and that's what this refers to, in the preliminary election people would run as a team,” he said. “So, if candidate A and candidate B want to submit themselves as mayor and deputy mayor, they would go on the ballot as one team."


Depending on the speed with which it moves, the measure could be part of the upcoming ballot in November or in 2021.


Camara explains that if the municipal government form were to change, the city manager "shall be the chief administrative officer of the city and shall be responsible for the administration of all departments, commissions, boards and officers of the city, whether established before its adoption of this plan or thereafter, except that of the city clerk, city auditor, city corporation counsel and any official appointed by the governor or anybody selected by the voters of the city."


Current Fall River City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros questioned Councilor Camara about the number of signatures future contenders for office may have to secure.


"So, if I'm understanding this correctly, do they have to secure 450 signatures?" She asked.


Camara replied, "Referring to this preliminary election procedure, yes. This was raised at the last meeting.” 


He went on, “What if candidates A and B want to be candidates for mayor and deputy mayor, but don't want to take a chance at not being a member of the city council or school committee? They would have to appear on the ballot for council or committee. It would be their option."


Viveiros continued by questioning the timing of changing the process and noting how critical that is.


"We're not going to be able to give the public adequate time to be educated, understand them and be able to make an informed decision on it,” she said. “So I think the timing is extremely ambitious. I worry that the decision that gets made is not as informed as it needs to be based on the timeline."


Camara indicated this might be the time to see if voters want a totally different form of municipal government in the city of Fall River.