Guide to Waterford plebiscite on a directly-elected mayor
On Friday, voting takes place nationally in the European and local elections and the referendum on the regulation of divorce.
On the same day, the electors of the administrative area of Waterford City and County Council will also be asked to vote on the Government’s proposal for a Mayor with executive functions to be directly elected by the people.
This public vote is called a plebiscite. A plebiscite is an electoral poll consulting the public on a proposal. Plebiscites on the same issue will take place in Cork city and Limerick on the same day.
In this plebiscite, voters will be asked if they approve of the proposal that would allow the people of Waterford City and County to directly elect a Mayor with executive functions for a five-year term. At present, the Mayor of Waterford City and County is elected for a one-year term by other councillors. Under the Government’s proposal, the directly elected Mayor would have significantly more functions (duties) than a Mayor currently has, including some or all of the functions now performed by the chief executive of the City and County Council, and such other functions as may be provided by or under statute.
The Local Government Act 2019 provides for the holding of the plebiscite. Under the 2019 Act, if the proposal is approved by a majority of voters in Waterford City and County, the minister will submit a report to the Oireachtas with legislative proposals for an election of a Mayor by the people of Waterford City and County. The Oireachtas will then consider the legislation. If the law is passed, a direct election for Mayor of Waterford City and County with executive functions will take place.
If the proposal is not approved by a majority of voters in Waterford City and County, the current balance of powers and functions in Waterford City and County Council will not be changed without legislation.
The Local Government Act 2019 provides that Waterford City and County Council must provide information to voters on this proposal, including on its possible advantages and disadvantages. This guide provides this information.