Corinth board votes to change form of government

By JANE CLARK SUMMERS

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – In future Corinth elections, candidates running for alderman will not have to wear out nearly as much shoe leather as they campaign for a seat on the board and voters will not have as many levers to pull at the poll.

Beginning with the 2006 election, voters will cast one vote for one alderman in the ward in which they live and another vote for an at-large alderman. In all past elections, voters have had the opportunity to vote for an alderman in each of the city's five wards.

In a historic step Tuesday, the Corinth Board of Aldermen adopted an ordinance changing the city's form of government from five at-large aldermen to a six-person board. Under the new system, one alderman will be elected from each of the five existing wards and a sixth alderman will be elected at-large.

“This will put us in line with other cities our size,” said Mayor Jerry Latch. “It will help the citizens get to know their aldermen better and they can also call on the alderman at-large.

There have always been five at-large aldermen under the current system of government which was chartered in 1884, said city attorney Bill Odom. The charter was amended in 1910, changing elections from every two years to every four years.

The change will also improve chances of minority representation on the board. In a redistricting plan approved last year, Ward 4 was laid out to include a 58 percent black majority population.

“It's the right thing to do,” said Ward 4 Alderman Terrell Kingen. “It's going to allow an alderman to get closer to his people because he will have fewer people and a smaller area.”

Representatives of the African-American community met with the board on several occasions in past years requesting such a change.

“We have had it in the plans for a long time,” said Alderman Jimmy Hathcock.

“This is a tremendous change,” Kingen said.

The amendment must be approved by the governor and attorney general and recorded by the secretary of state before taking effect.