Conroe City Council unanimously voted July 14 to cease conversations about changing the city charter and form of government, an issue Mayor Jody Czajkoski said he plans to revisit. Czajkoski initiated discussions in July on changing the city charter to add two council positions and move from a city administrator to a city manager form of government.

Czajkoski formed the Charter Review Committee in July to recommend changes to the charter to council members, who would then vote whether to add propositions to the November ballot for citizens to vote on, according to Czajkoski. However, City Council voted July 14 to cease and desist all charter review meetings at the request of Council Members Harry Hardman and Marsha Porter.

Czajkoski said in a phone interview he believes a change in the charter would benefit the growing city by providing more representation for residents with a single-member district system for City Council.

“Having two additional council members for a total of seven with four being single-member districts would ensure that each geographical location would have a council member that actually lives in that part of the community and knows the issues,” Czajkoski said.

Currently, council operates as a home rule municipality governed by its charter, which states council consists of five council members and a mayor. Czajkoski’s recommendations would change the charter—the document that establishes a municipality’s way of governing—by adding two council seats, making some council seats single-member districts and replacing the city administrator position with a city manager.

Czajkoski said he would like to see every 25,000 people be represented by one council member who lives within their area. He said most cities similar in size to Conroe have single-member districts—council members representing a specific population or district—with some council members at large, or representing the full population.

Divided council

Mayor Pro Tem Curt Maddux said he also believes a review of the charter could benefit Conroe because the last review of the charter was in 1992.

“I mean, it’s been 30 years, so I do think it needs to be looked at,” Maddux said in an interview.

However, Hardman said in an email he does not believe there needs to be a review of the charter. He said he believes the current system ensures the citizens have equal representation. Also, he said he believes changing the charter to include a city manager would remove procedural authority from the council and take authority away from the citizens.

“I want to keep the focus of council to be on what’s best for all our citizens, not ‘my’ district,” Hardman said. “A single-member district type system is utilized in Houston, and I believe it lacks proper representation for the citizens in each of those districts.”

According to Hardman, there had been no discussion as of July 28 to bring the topic back to council, and he has received comments in support of the current charter.

However, Czajkoski said he plans to continue discussing the charter and has received calls from the community in support of changes. Czajkoski said if council does not revisit the issue, citizens could form a petition with enough signatures to bypass council and place the item on the November ballot.

“I’ve had multiple citizens call me about bringing it back,” Czajkoski said. “It’s been a hot topic in every election. It got political, and I don’t know why.”