Petersburg residents want to vote for mayor

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Residents will  voice their opinion on how Petersburg's mayor is selected during a public hearing Thursday at the Appomattox Regional Governor's School.

Petersburg resident Janette Jones said she would like more input on how her city’s mayor is chosen.

"I would like to see who is running, look up their background and whatever,” Jones said. “I would like to vote for myself."

Right now, the seven members of city council, each representing a ward, vote on which council member will serve as mayor.

The practice is known as a weak mayor form of government since a city manager runs the day-to-day operations of the city.

In a strong mayor form of government, the mayor is elected at large.

"What would a strong mayor do, he would be able to say, ‘Ok, here is the problem we have right now. I am going to solve it.’ And he's not going to be divided, like a city manager is with seven parochial interests,” Richmond mayoral candidate Joe Morrissey explained.

However, to make a change in how the mayor is elected is not a simple process.

"After the public hearing tonight, the Citizenry Committee will make the presentation to council with recommendations,” Brian Moore, a former mayor and current Ward 4 council member said. “Council will act on recommendations and send those forward to the General Assembly for consideration."

And  some city council members do not believe a change is needed.

"With the situations we've been having in the past, with the mayor and things like that, I don't think it would be a good idea at this point,” said Ward 2 council member Darrin Hill.

Moore also does not support the move.

“At this time, I don't see an advantage, but we will follow the guidelines and recommendations of the Citizenry Committee,” Moore said.

If city council does approve a change in how the mayor is elected a decision would also have to be made to how the vice mayor is elected.