Charter Change Survey Results
In support of council’s consideration of possible changes to the city’s charter, staff created and released an online survey on the Survey Monkey platform. The survey was promoted via the following channels:
- Paid advertising in the Inter-Mountain
- Multiple press releases, all of which were published in the Inter-Mountain and on the city website
- Two TV news stories mentioning the survey’s availability
- “Sidebar alert” with link to survey on every page of the city website
- Multiple Facebook posts
- Messages sent to the city’s email newsletter list
- Direct email to various city stakeholders
- Dissemination by Elkins Main Street and the Elkins-Randolph Chamber of Commerce email lists
The survey was available from August 14 through September 2. During that time, 115 people responded to the survey. The survey had 10 questions, which are summarized below (actual question wording on the survey was different than shown below; the questions are reprinted in full in the attached results). All questions were optional, meaning that respondents did not have to answer every question to submit their answers.
- Are you a resident/property owner/business owner, etc.?
- Name and address. (These answers are not included in the attached results.)
- Which charter-change background materials have you reviewed?
- Should the charter be changed?
- What aspects of the charter should be changed?
- If you oppose changing the charter, why?
- What form of government do you prefer for Elkins?
- Should council be resized?
- Should council be restructured?
- What else would you like to share about possible charter changes?
Here is an overview of some of the results:
- There was strong support for “updating” the charter. Almost 69% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that “the Elkins City Charter should be updated” (question 4).
- More than 80 percent of respondents want council to “update obsolete sections” of the charter (question 5). The next most popular category of changes was “restructure/resize council” (54 percent), followed by change the form of government (49 percent).
- When asked what form of government they preferred for Elkins (question 7), 39 percent wanted to keep the current form, followed closely by the 35 percent who favored some form of manager-based government (i.e., either Manager or Manager-Mayor). Least popular was the idea of adopting a Strong Mayor Plan (26 percent).
- Regarding changing the size of council (question 8), most respondents want to reduce it (50 percent). Those who wanted to keep it the same as it is now numbered 35 percent. Only 14 percent wanted a larger council.
- When asked (question 9) about changing the structure of council (ward vs. at-large representation, ward vs. at-large voting, etc.), 39 percent favored the current strict ward-based qualification and election. The next largest group, at 19 percent, wanted to keep ward-based representation but adopt at-large (citywide) voting for all council seats. At 16 percent, those who want a mix of at-large and ward councilors came in third place.
It is important to keep in mind that these results cannot be described as representative of public opinion. Unlike a poll, respondents were not randomly selected, so they cannot be said to represent a cross-section of the community. This survey would not have been available, for example, to people lacking internet access. Also, despite the efforts made to publicize the survey, it is still possible that some potential respondents may not have heard about it.
The results may be downloaded in PDF form here.
If you prefer viewing the survey results online, you may do so by clicking here.