Johnson wants to attract young talent to Pensacola City Council

Today, the Pensacola City Council will hold a workshop to discuss 11 proposed amendments to the Pensacola City Council. The News Journal published a viewpoint by Councilman Larry Johnson in support of his proposal to reduce the size of the council from seven to five members and raise the council salaries from $13,998.14 to $30,802.

In his viewpoint, Johnson argued that the City of Pensacola needed full-time council members:

Some argue that city council service is a “part-time” job or that we only meet once a month, but that just isn’t true. This week alone we have four meetings. Between attending those meetings, answering constituent calls and emails, serving on other boards like the Transportation Planning Organization or the Tourist Development Council, researching the issues coming before the council, and more, it’s a 40 hour a week (or more) job. And it should be. Pensacola is a vibrant, growing city with important issues on the horizon. We need full-time council members who are engaged and dedicated.

On Saturday, Johnson told Inweekly that he believed the salary needed to be increased to attract younger talent to run for the council.

“I had a young professional recently approach me,” he said. “Rick, he said he fully supported my amendment. If the salaries were higher, he would consider running for office.”

Johnson said that his proposal isn’t about him getting a raise. “I’m about 90-percent sure this will be last term,” he said. “This is about what comes next. I want to leave it so more people will consider running.”

He said that he would like to get his amendment approved to be placed on the 2016 General Election ballot before the qualifying deadline for the city council election. This year four council seats are up for election.

The council workshop will follow today’s agenda review. The meeting will be streamed line on the city’s website.

The other amendment proposals are:

1. City Council confirms appointment of City Administrator
2. City Council determines the organization of the city
3. City Council confirms/consents to hiring/firing of department heads
4. Council President and VP by chosen a rotation basis by district
5. Removal of resolution veto power
6. Creation of an independent personnel board
7. Repeal charter and reinstate council-manager form of government, with five council districts
8. Require mayor to be member of City Council
9. Establish Ethics Anti-corruption code, board, office and campaign finance program
10. City Council appoints City Clerk and City Attorney

Note: The council and mayor’s salaries can be changed by ordinance. Councilman Johnson’s proposed charter amendment concerns only reducing the number of council members. The increase in salaries for the council would be by ordinance, should the council reach an agreement. (See comment by Councilman Johnson below).