Chapter V - Initiative & Referendum

  • Sec. 5.01. Powers Reserved by the People. The people of West Saint Paul reserve to themselves the power, in accordance with the provisions of this Charter, to initiate and adopt any ordinance, except an ordinance appropriating money or authorizing the levy of taxes, and to require any ordinance or resolution when passed by the Council to be referred to the electors for approval or disapproval. These powers shall be called the initiative, and the referendum, respectively.
  • Sec. 5.02. Expenditures by Petitioners. No member of any initiative, or referendum committee, no circulator or a signature paper, and no signer of any such paper, or any other person, shall accept or offer any reward, pecuniary or otherwise, for service rendered in connection with the circulation thereof, but this shall not prevent the committee from paying for legal advise and from incurring expenses for stationery, copying, printing and notaries' fees. Any violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor.
  • Sec. 5.03. Further Regulations. The Council may provide by ordinance for such further regulations for the initiative, and referendum not inconsistent with this Charter, or in limitation of this Charter, as it deems necessary.
  • Sec. 5.04. Initiation of Measures. Any 5 registered electors may form themselves into a committee for the initiation of any ordinance except as provided in Section 5.01. Before circulating any petition, they shall file a verified copy of their proposed ordinance with the City Clerk together with their names and addresses as members of such committee. They shall also attach a verified copy of the proposed ordinance to each of the signature papers herein described, together with their names and addresses as sponsors therefore.
  • Sec. 5.05. Form of Petition and of Signature Papers. The petition for the adoption of any ordinance shall consist of the ordinance, together with all the signature papers and affidavits thereto attached. Such petition shall not be complete unless signed by a number of registered electors equal to at least 10% of the total number of votes cast at the last preceding regular municipal election. All signatures need not be on 1 signature paper, but the circulator of every such paper shall make an affidavit that each signature appended to the paper is genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be. Each signature paper shall be in substantially the following form:
    • Initiative Petition

      Proposing an Ordinance to ___________ (stating the purpose of the Ordinance), a copy of which Ordinance is hereto attached. This Ordinance is sponsored by the following committee of registered electors:

      Name Address

      1. ________________ _______________
      2. ________________ _______________
      3. ________________ _______________
      4. ________________ _______________
      5. ________________ _______________

      The undersigned registered elector, understanding the terms and the nature of Ordinance hereto attached, petition the Council for its adoption or in lieu thereof, for its submission to the electors for their approval.

      Name Address
      __________________ _______________

      Adding as many more lines as are necessary so that all petitioners when totaled will equal not less than 10% of the total number of votes cast at the last preceding regular municipal election. At the end of the list of signatures shall be appended the affidavit of the circulator mentioned above.
  • Section 5.06. Filing of Petitions and Action Thereon. All the signature papers shall be filed in the office of the City Clerk as 1 instrument. Within 5 days after the filing of the petition, the City Clerk shall ascertain by examination the numbers of electors whose signatures are appended thereto and whether this number is at least 10% of the total number of electors who cast their votes at the last preceding regular municipal election. If he or she finds the petition insufficient or irregular, the Clerk shall at once notify 1 or more of the committees or sponsors of that fact, certifying the reason for the finding. The committee shall then be given 30 days in which to file additional signature papers and to correct the petition in all other particulars. If at the end of that period, the petition is found to be still insufficient or irregular, the Clerk shall file it in the office and shall notify each member of the committee of that fact. The final finding of the insufficiency or irregularity of a petition shall not prejudice the filing of a new petition for the same purpose, nor shall it prevent the council from referring the ordinance to the electors at the next regular or any special election at its option.
    • Section 5.10 – Ordinance 97-16
  • Section 5.07. Action of Council on Petition. When the petition is found to be sufficient, the City Clerk shall so certify to the Council at its next meeting, stating the number of petitions and the percentage of the total number of electors which they constitute, and the Council shall at once read the ordinance and refer it to an appropriate committee, which may be a committee of the whole. The committee or Council shall thereupon provide for public hearings upon the ordinance, after the holding of which the ordinance shall be finally acted upon by the Council not later than 65 days after the date upon which it was submitted to the Council by the City Clerk. If the Council fails to pass the proposed ordinance, or passes it in a form different from that set forth in the petition and unsatisfactory to the petitioners, the proposed ordinance shall be submitted by the Council to the vote of the electors at the next regular municipal election; but if the number of signers of the petition is equal to at least 15% of the total number of electors voting at the last regular municipal election, the Council shall call a special election upon the measure. Such special election shall be held not less than 30 days nor more than 45 days from the date of final action on the ordinance by the Council or after the expiration of 65 days from the date of submission to the Council when there has been no final action; but if a regular election is to occur within 3 months, the Council may submit the ordinance at that election. If the Council passes the proposed ordinance with amendments and at least 4/5 of the committee of petitioners do not express their dissatisfaction with such amended form by a statement filed with the City Clerk within 10 days of the passage thereof by the Council, the ordinance need not be submitted to the electors.
  • Section 5.08. Initiative Ballots. The ballots used when voting upon any such proposed ordinance shall state the substance of the ordinance and shall give the electors the opportunity to vote either "yes" or "no" on the question of adoption. If a majority of the electors voting on any such ordinance vote in favor of it, it shall thereupon become an ordinance of the City. Any number of proposed ordinances may be voted upon at the same election but the elector shall be allowed to vote for or against each separately. In case of inconsistency between 2 initiated ordinances approved at 1 election, the 1 approved by the higher percentage of electors voting on the question shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.
  • Section 5.09. Initiation of Charter Amendments. Nothing in this Charter contained shall be construed as in any way affecting the right of the electors under the constitution and statutes of Minnesota to proposed amendments to this Charter.
  • Section 5.10 The Referendum. If within 30 days of the effective date of any ordinance or resolution a petition signed by registered electors of the City equal in number to 10% of the total vote at the last regular municipal election is filed with the City Clerk requesting that any such ordinance or resolution be repealed or rescinded or be submitted to a vote of the electors, the ordinance or resolution shall thereby be prevented from going into operation. All the signature papers shall be filed in the office of the City Clerk as 1 instrument. Within 5 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, after the filing of the petition, the City Clerk shall ascertain by examination the numbers of registered electors whose signatures are appended thereto and whether this number is at least 10% of the total number of electors who cast their votes at the last preceding regular municipal election. The Council shall thereupon reconsider the ordinance or resolution at its next regular meeting, and either repeal or rescind it or reaffirm the ordinance or resolution as passed. In the latter case, the Council shall immediately order a special election to be held thereon, or submit the ordinance or resolution at the next regular municipal election, pending which the ordinance or resolution shall remain suspended. If a majority of the electors voting thereon is opposed to the ordinance or resolution, it shall not become effective; but if a majority of the electors voting thereon favors the ordinance or resolution, it shall go into effect immediately.
    • Section 5.11 - Ordinance 97-14
    • Section 5.10 - Ordinance 97-16
    • Section 5.10 – Ordinance 99-21
    • Section 5.11 – Ordinance 99-22
  • Sec. 5.11. Referendum Petitions. The requirements laid down in Sections 5.04 and 5.05 above as to the formation of committees for the initiation of ordinances and as to the form of petitions and signature papers shall apply to the referendum as far as possible, but with such verbal changes as may be necessary. A referendum petition shall read substantially as follows:
    • Referendum Petition

      Proposing the repeal of an ordinance or rescission of a resolution to ____________(stating the purpose of the ordinance or resolution) a copy of which ordinance or resolution is hereto attached. The proposed repeal or rescission is sponsored by the following committee of registered electors:

      Name Address
      1. _________________ _________________
      2. _________________ _________________
      3. _________________ _________________
      4. _________________ _________________
      5. _________________ _________________

      The undersigned petitioners, understanding the nature of the ordinance or resolution hereto attached and believing it to be detrimental to the welfare of the City petition the Council for its submission to a vote of the electors for their approval or disapproval.

      Printed Name
      Signature
      Address

      Last, First, Middle Initial
      or as appears on the Voter
      ____________ __________ __________

      Registration Card

      Adding as many lines and pages as are necessary so that all petitioners and petitions when totaled will equal not less than 10% of the total number of votes cast at the last preceding regular municipal election.
  • Sec. 5.12. Referendum Ballots. The form of the ballots used in any referendum election shall conform to the rules laid down in Section 5.08 of this Charter for initiative ballots.
  • Sec. 5.13. Recall Elections. The holder of any elective office, in the City of West St. Paul, may be removed at any time for malfeasance or nonfeasance in office by the electors qualified to vote for a successor of such incumbent, in the following manner:
    • Subd. 1. A petition signed by such electors equal in number to at least 15% of the currently registered voters; in the case of Mayor, those registered voters in all Wards; in the case of Councilperson, those registered voters in his/her own Ward, demanding a special election determine whether the person named therein shall be recalled, and to elect a successor of the person sought to be removed, shall be filed with the Clerk. The petition shall contain a general statement, in not more than 2 hundred words, of the specific grounds on which the removal is sought. The signatures to the petition need not all be appended to 1 paper, but each signer shall state his or her place of residence and street number. One of the signers of each such paper shall make an oath that the signatures therein made are true, as he or she believes and that each signature to the paper appended is the genuine signature of the person whose signature it purports to be.
    • Subd. 2. The signatures gathered for such petition, must be obtained within a period of 30 days from the date of the first signature.
    • Sub. 3. Within 10 days from the date of filing such petition, the Clerk shall ascertain from the voters register whether or not said petition is signed by the requisite number of qualified electors. The Clerk shall attach to the petition the certificate showing the result of the examination. If, by the Clerk's certificate, the petition is shown to be insufficient, it may be amended within 10 days from the date of said Clerk's certificate. The Clerk shall, within 10 days after such amendment make a similar examination of the amended petition, and if the certificate shall show the same to be insufficient, it shall be returned to the person filing the same, without prejudice, however, to filing of a new petition to the same effect. If the petition is deemed sufficient, the Clerk shall submit the same to the Council without delay, and thereupon the Council shall order the same filed, and a copy thereof delivered to the person sought to be recalled.
    • Subd. 4. Within 10 days after the filing of said petition, the Council shall fix a date for holding said special election not less than 30 days, nor more than 40 days, from the date of said filing. In the published call for the election, there shall be printed in not more than 200 words, the reasons for demanding the recall of the officer, as set forth in the recall petition, and in said call, in not more than 200 words, the officer may justify his or her course in office.
    • Subd. 5. Any qualified elector of the electoral district may file in the same manner as for any City election for the office which may be filled at any recall election.
    • Subd. 6. Except as herein otherwise provided, such special election shall be conducted, returned, and the result thereof declared, in all respects as are general municipal elections. There shall be placed on the recall ballot or voting machine, as to every officer whose recall is to be voted on thereat, the following question: "Shall (name of the person against whom the recall petition is filed) be recalled from the office of (title of office)?" Following which question shall be the words "Yes" and "No". On such ballots or voting machines following each such question, there shall also be printed the names of those persons who have been nominated as candidates to succeed the person recalled in the case he or she shall be removed from office by said recall election. The name of the person against whom the petition is filed shall not appear on the ballot as a candidate for the office. If a majority of those voting on the question of the recall of any incumbent from office, shall vote "No", said incumbent shall continue in office. If a majority shall vote "Yes", said incumbent shall be deemed removed therefrom upon the qualification of his or her successor. If the vote at any such recall election shall recall the officer then the candidate who has received the highest number of votes for the office shall thereby be elected and shall hold office for the unexpired term.
    • Subd. 7. No recall petition shall be filed against any officer until he or she has actually held his or her office for at least 6 months. No person who has been recalled from office, or who has resigned from such office while recall proceedings were pending against him or her, shall be elected or appointed to any office in the City within 1 year after such recall or resignation. Should any person resign from office while recall proceedings are pending against him or her, the election provided for herein shall be called and proceeded with but shall be limited to the purpose of electing his or her successor in office.
    • Sub. 8. If a majority of the Council shall fail or refuse to act in such recall proceedings, compliance with the provisions of this section may be enforced by proceedings in the district court of Dakota County at the suit of any citizen of this City.