From the Ballot Box: 2017 Election Results

A number of form-of-government initiatives were included on ballots in May and November 2017. Some are still being decided.

ARTICLE | Nov 16, 2017

Your vote really does count! The May 6 and November 7, 2017, election cycles resulted in the adoption or rejection of a number of form-of-government-related proposals—one by a three-vote margin and another by only 10 votes. Below is a summary of the campaigns in which ICMA was involved or of which staff were made aware.

May 2017 Results
Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas (pop. 8,645)

Voters overwhelmingly supported becoming a home rule vs. general law city with a home rule charter, which would enable the city to establish the council-manager form of government. ICMA provided financial resources from its Future of Professional Management Fund in support of the effort.

Shoreacres, Texas (pop. 1,600)

By more than an 8-to-1 margin, residents in Shoreacres adopted a proposal to change the city’s form of government from mayor-council to council-manager. ICMA provided financial and other support to Better Shoreacres Today, a local resident group committed to the change.

November 2017 Results
Lakeland, Florida (pop. 106,420)

By a greater than 2-to-1 margin (31.34% for, 68.66% against), Lakeland residents defeated a proposal to change the city’s form of government from council-manager to mayor-council. The initiative was heavily financed (nearly $1 million) by the Committee for a Strong Lakeland group, led by the grandson of the Publix Grocery Store chain. Over the course of more than two years, ICMA staff provided extensive support to opponents of the change, including a financial contribution from the Future of Professional Management Fund to the No Boss Mayor residents’ group.

Saratoga Springs, New York (pop. 27,763)

In a nailbiter that has yet to be certified, voters in Saratoga Springs still await the final outcome of the November 7 proposal to move the city away from its current commission structure to the council-manager form. Initially, the proposal to change, which was recommended by the city Charter Review Commission, led by 48 votes (4,202 in favor and 4,154 against), but the pendulum swung in the opposite direction (to 4,448 for and 4,458 against) when the 500 absentee ballots were counted. Additionally, 18 absentee ballots had also been mailed to military personnel with a return deadline of November 20. There may be a recount, so the results of this election won’t be known for at least a few more weeks. ICMA provided financial and other support to the It’s Time Saratoga residents group.

West Jordan, Utah (pop. 113,699) 

In another tight election, residents in West Jordan adopted a proposal to change the city’s structure from the current council-manager form to the mayor-council form (with a seven-member council). The change passed by a 70-vote margin [6,800 (50.26%) in favor and 6,730 (49.74%) against]. ICMA provided financial support through the Future of Professional Management Fund to Citizens for West Jordan’s Future, which was organized to retain the form.

Canton, South Dakota (pop. 3,386)

The election outcome in Canton, South Dakota, was also too close not to be contested. Residents there voted 408 for and 405 against a change to the city’s current city management form of government to commissioner-mayor form, and as a result, an election recount will take place on November 20. ICMA contributed funding to the Preserve Progress resident group.

Marion County, Kansas (pop. 12,103)

In response to the question of whether the board of commissioners should create the position of county administrator, on November 7, Marion County residents voted 978 for and 1,209 against the proposal.

Need form-of-government assistance?

ICMA provides information, presentations, and other support to individuals and organizations interested in promoting professional management and the council-manager form of government. Contact Michele Frisby at or 202-962-3658. To learn more about donating to ICMA’s Future of Professional Management Fund, visit or contact Erin Carr, development manager, at or 202-962-3697.




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