LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — Allies of West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens have turned in petitions with 1,621 signatures seeking a ballot this fall on a plan that would put him back in charge at City Hall.
It was spurred by a move April 1 by the nine-member City Council that stripped him of oversight of their decisions.
Lexington County election officials will spend a few weeks verifying there are at least 1,238 signatures of eligible voters who live in the city for the referendum to occur.
The choice of when that vote happens would be up to a council controlled by Owens’ foes, but the ballot must happen within 90 days after sufficient signatures are reported.
Leaders of the petition drive expect a ballot in September or October. “We’re fine with that,” spokesman Jimmy Brookscq said.
The change would install a strong-mayor setup in place, giving Owens more clout than he had by putting the mayor in charge of the daily operation of city staff.