Williams County is seeking voter approval for two questions on the November 2020 General Election ballot. Both questions are related to changes to the Williams County Home Rule Charter. For information about how to vote in the November 2020 election, please visit the Election page.
What is a Home Rule Charter?
A Home Rule Charter is a document that allows County government to exercise flexibility in governance and operations, including the collection of sales tax and implementation of ordinances. Williams County is one of ten counties in North Dakota that has a Home Rule Charter. The Charter has not been updated since it was originally voted into place in 2006; changes to the Charter require a simple majority from voters.
What are the updates being proposed on the ballot?
Proposed updates to the Williams County
Home Rule Charter are divided into two ballot questions:
- Measure 1
- Seeks approval to change the positions of Auditor and Treasurer/Recorder from elected to appointed. This change would take effect in 2023 when the terms of the incumbents have expired. Appointment means that applications would be open to the public and qualified candidates would be interviewed and hired using the standard process for recruiting all County employees.
- Measure 2
- Updates language in the charter to align with legislative changes related taxes that a County Commission can levy, residency requirements of candidates for elected office, and budget publication requirements; language updates regarding County employee and department head employment status is to align with the wording of standard at-will employment terminology.
Why is the County proposing these changes?
- Changes cannot be made to the Charter without voter approval; the Charter has not been updated since it was originally voted into place in 2006.
- Williams County needs to update language to ensure the charter is aligned with Century Code (state law) and human resources practices.
- The positions of Auditor and Treasurer/Recorder rarely have more than one person running. With a lack of interested candidates, voters do not benefit from the discussion and accountability originally intended when these positions were established as elected offices. The pool of interested individuals would likely be widened by removing the need to run for office.
- Specialized training or education is not required to run for Auditor or Treasurer/Recorder, but with a change to appointed, education and experience requirements could be used in the selection process. In the past, experienced candidates with institutional knowledge have run, but that may not be the case in the future.
Where can I read the Charter?
The amended Charter in its entirety can be downloaded by clicking here. It was also published in the August 12, 2020 edition of the Williston Herald. The original charter with additions/deletions can be read here.
Where can I direct my comments or questions?
Public comment and questions can be submitted to email@example.com. Please note that changes to the ballot questions or to the Charter itself cannot be made at this point in the election process.