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Democracy in Action

May 13, 2009 - Joselyn King
Whether one approves or disapproves of Wheeling's two-man cruiser law, they have to respect the means by which the issue has once again come up for debate in the city.

The story Wheeling residents George Jones and Bill Hefner tell is that they and a group of other friends were sitting around one morning, drinking coffee and discussing the fate of the world -- as retired men are apt to do -- when the subject of the subject of the two-man cruiser law came up.

Now most people would have just let their thoughts stop at just talk. But Jones and Hefner got up from their coffee confab, gathered 2,463 signatures on petitions over the course of months, and are now seeking an election to overturn the two-man cruiser rule.

It's a matter that has to be done by election since the law was first instituted by a vote of Wheeling's residents in 1973, then was upheld by voters in a second election in 1980.

As such, the law is representative of a democratic process that allows the citizenry by petitions to initiate laws (through initiatives) or to overturn existing statute (by referendums.)

Can't you just hear the "Stars and Stripes Forever" playing in the background?

That said, it should be a simple decision by Wheeling City Council to approve an ordinance "to consider a special election" if it is found that enough of those 2,463 signatures seeking to overturn the two-man cruiser law are deemed valid. A total of 2,212 is needed.

By law, enough people would have indicated they want an election, and their wishes should be respected.


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