Carbondale citizens will have the opportunity to expand the City Council by two members after the Council approved a referendum for November’s election Tuesday night.

By Gus Bode

The motion was requested by Councilwoman Corene McDaniel, who said the citizens should decide if they want expanded representation rather than the Council making the decision.

The Council now has five voting members:four council members and the mayor.

The referendum passed 3-2.

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Councilmen Mike Neill and Brad Cole voted against placing the option to expand the council on the ballot.

Neill said he opposed it because it will open the door to fourth-place candidates, and given some of the candidates in past elections, Neill said it would drastically change the character of the Council.

His comment was followed by laughter.

Cole said he thought the current five-member council was capable of representing the city as it is and that adding new members would cost more money.

“We have the ability to mess things up right now with just the five of us,” Cole said.

Councilwoman Maggie Flanagan and Mayor Neil Dillard said that if there is a desire in the community to expand the Council then the voters should be allowed to decide.

In 1987 and 2001 voters defeated efforts to divide the city into wards with council members elected from each ward. Also in 2001, an effort to elect some council members at large and others in districts was voted down.

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Raymond Gilmer, representing the Undergraduate Student Government, inquired about the status of the Human Relations Commission.

Dillard said no further action had been taken by the Council.

The Council also heard from citizens concerned that the city was not communicating with the community about a recent shooting.

Complaining that the local newspapers did not cover a shooting late Friday night on East Willow Street, Carbondale resident Pepper Holder said he was having trouble getting information about it. The Council has a responsibility to let citizens know what happened given the magnitude of the crime, Holder said.

“I personally want to know what’s happening,” Holder said.

Elbert Simon agreed saying it is not a good situation for citizens to go home to bed without having information about these kinds of violent crimes.

“How can we be responsible citizens if we are kept in the dark?” Simon said.

The police do try to keep the community informed, said City Manager Jeff Doherty.

Carbondale Police Chief R.T. Finney said citizens can call him for answers to their questions.

Reporter Phil Beckman can be reached at

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