Under the current charter, the citizens can petition for a referendum to rescinded any council action:
Within sixty (60) days following the effective date of any action by the city council, the legally registered voters of the City of Pensacola may by written petition, addressed to the council, object to such action; and if during the said period such written petition signed by fifteen (15) percent of the registered voters of the city be filed with the council, the council shall forthwith order an election, at which election the legally registered voters of the city shall vote for or against the questioned council action as set forth in the council minutes, bylaws, resolutions, or ordinances, and the council shall be bound by the results of said election; provided, that any special election called pursuant to this section shall be held within sixty (60) days after verification of the petition by the council; provided further, that the special election shall not be scheduled to coincide with council elections or within forty-five (45) days of same
In a system where the citizens can not change the direction of their city government through the election process and have no control over the executive branch that handles the day-to-day operations, this section of the charter is the only opportunity for the voters to have a voice for change.
There have been two petition drives this decade both concerning the waterfront property across from City Hall. In 2003, the citizens rejected a council/city staff plan to build a replacement for the Bayfront Auditorium there. In 2006, the citizens voted to build the Community Maritime Park.
The petition process is very important in a government structure that has so many council members, of which a voter can only elect four, and a city manager that is completely buffered from their desires.
The new charter takes this referendum power even further. The voters can vote to recall any elected council member or the mayor. Ten percent of the registered voters can sign a petition to have a recall election of an elected official. So for all of you that are worried about a powerful, crooked mayor gutting city government, the recall provision is how to stop it.
The citizens also have additional power–initiatives. Instead being solely reactive, the citizens can be proactive. They can petition to have ordinances put before voters in a referendum —if they can get 10 percent of the registered voters to sign this petition.
The initiative clause makes the council and mayor listen even more to the citizens. Ideas don’t get stuck at staff level.
In a city the size of Pensacola, this section ensures their government will be more responsive.
Here is the section:
Section 7.01. Recall.
Recall of elected officials shall be according to the provisions of state law.
Section 7.02. Power of Initiative.
City electors shall have the power to propose ordinances to the City Council. If the City
Council fails to adopt an ordinance so proposed without any change in substance, the electors have the power to adopt or reject the proposed ordinance at a City election. The electors are not empowered to propose ordinances that extend to providing an annual budget, levying taxes, or setting salaries of City officers or employees
Section 7.03. Power of Referendum.
Upon sixty (60) days following the effective date of a measure passed by City Council,
City electors shall have the power to require reconsideration by the City Council of any measure passed by City Council. If the City Council fails to repeal a measure so reconsidered, the electors have the power to approve or reject the reconsidered measure at a City election. The electors are not empowered to reconsider measures that extend to providing an annual budget, levying taxes, or setting salaries of City officers or employees.