A grassroots movement to get an ordinance to reduce the number of members of the Helena- West Helena City Council and number of wards in the city reduced on the November ballot was successful.

Last week, Elijah Mondy, owner of radio station KJIW, and local attorney James Valley delivered petitions containing 829 signatures to City Clerk Sandi Ramsey for verification.

A grassroots movement to get an ordinance to reduce the number of members of the Helena- West Helena City Council and number of wards in the city reduced on the November ballot was successful.

Last week, Elijah Mondy, owner of radio station KJIW, and local attorney James Valley delivered petitions containing 829 signatures to City Clerk Sandi Ramsey for verification.

Mondy told The Helena World that due to a serious decline in population in the community an ordinance was adopted to reduce the size of the city council from 10 to 6 and the number of wards in the city from 5 to 3. The measure will be voted on by the people in the November general election.

According to the 2010 census, Helena-West Helena's population has steadily decreased to 12, 282 and is still on the decline.

"Why does Helena-West Helena need to spend the money and expenses for 10 city council members when we can spend less money for six and still get the job done and perhaps much better?" Asked Mondy.

Mondy cited several cities much larger than Helena-West Helena that are operating with smaller city councils. Among those were Clarksdale, Mississippi with a population of 34,400 and has six council members; Clarksdale, Mississippi, population 17,928 has only four council members; and Pine Bluff, population 49,083 has only eight members. Mondy also listed North Little Rock, Springdale, Rogers as other examples of Arkansas cities utilizing fewer council members. He added that there are many other examples.

The bottom line, said Mondy, is that reducing the council size and the number of wards simply makes good business sense.

"Hopefully, we can put a better mechanism in place that will enable more citizens the power to hold every council member more accountable, which is seriously needed," commented Mondy.

Mondy called the effort "Citizens for a Better Local Government."

According to Mondy, the petition drive was an interesting experience.

"One week before the deadline we had about 70 or 80 signatures," recalled Mondy. "We had galvanized the people by way of radio and the local newspaper and we did not have the mechanism in place to meet the demands of people who wanted to sign."

That, continued Mondy, over the Labor Day Weekend. College students coming home for the holiday helped pitch in. By the Friday, Sept. 9 deadline 829 signatures had been obtained, well over the required number to get the ordinance on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

"It was amazing how many citizens across racial lines wanted to sign the petitions," stated Mondy. "It was great to see that citizens are concerned and tired of the ongoing problems in our city.

"The power should be 'we the people' ad not the few who want absolute power," added Mondy.