Clawson puts proposals to revise city charter, elect charter commission on ballot

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 14, 2021

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CLAWSON — During a special meeting June 29, the Clawson City Council approved adding two items to the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

The first proposal asks Clawson voters whether or not to revise the city charter, while the second proposal allows voters to elect nine members of a charter commission responsible for drafting the new charter.

Both items passed with three “ayes” from Mayor Reese Scripture, Councilman Lou Samson and Councilwoman Kathy Phillips. Councilwomen Susan Moffitt and Paula Millan abstained from voting because they took issue with the resolutions.

During a February workshop, City Manager Mike Smith and City Attorney Renis Nushaj gave the City Council a presentation on the age and state of the city’s charter after looking into other communities that have embarked on similar endeavors.

According to a memo from Scripture, the charter “is outdated, contains illegal provisions, and is generally not reflective of the needs of a City that has evolved, along with the rest of the world, over the last 70 years.”

The charter commission would have two years to “do a thoughtful and thorough review, supported by staff and the City Attorney, and would include plenty of opportunities for resident input,” for a “fully updated and functional Charter by November 2024,” Scripture’s memo states.

She wrote that “every meeting has offered examples that our Charter is badly in need of an overhaul. If nothing else, recent events surrounding my resignation and reinstatement should put a fine point on revisiting the opportunity to form a Charter Commission.”

Moffitt said she felt like the process of developing the proposals was done without the input of the City Council, that the council should have done a workshop on the issue, and that council should have more say in the charter than approving what the charter commission determines.

Scripture said the council would have the opportunity to give input, as the charter commission meetings would be open to the public, including elected officials, and the body would be soliciting input from everyone.

“The sudden push to address the charter has ‘personal agenda’ written all over it. Rushing through the process makes me wonder what the urgency is. I’m pretty sure most of the population is not intimidated by traditional pronouns in the charter language,” Millan said, referring to the current charter’s use of only “he” and “him.” “Do we need to make sure our community appears woke, or is there an actual reason why we are in a rush to once again push something through?”

She added that she felt there was “a lot going on in our community” and “we don’t have a lot of people who are jumping up and down and want to participate in many things.”

Phillips said she would rather have residents vote on whether or not they wanted a charter revision first before proceeding with electing the charter commission on the same ballot.

“If it’s an overwhelming ‘no,’ then it’s irrelevant about the second part,” Scripture responded. “I’ve had several people reach out to me and say they’d be interested in serving on the charter commission.”

According to the city, registered Clawson voters who have lived in the city for at least two years and are not currently elected or appointed city officials or employees may run for the charter commission.

Candidates may submit a nominating form signed by 25 registered Clawson voters by the filing deadline of 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 20, for their names to appear on the ballot. Forms can be obtained at and returned to the Clerk’s Office. After the deadline, write-in candidates can pick up an affidavit from the Clerk’s Office and return it to declare themselves as write-in candidates; their names will not appear on the ballot.

For more information, call the Clerk’s Office at (248) 435-4500, ext. 116 or 118, email Clerk August Gitschlag at agitschlag@cityofclawson.com, or visit cityofclawson.com.

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