Committee discusses residency requirement change in city charter

LAWTON,OK (KSWO) - Meeting number two for the Lawton city charter citizens committee happened on Wednesday, and still no recommendation from the committee on residency requirements for city employees. While Tanner wasn't at the meeting due to some confusion on when he was suppose to propose an amended charter change, the committee did take time to hash out their thoughts on his idea for requiring top city officials to live in or close to Lawton.

It's either you were for, or against the change to the charter at Wednesday's meeting.

Last month, Councilman Dwight Tanner proposed that the council approve a citizens vote on a change to the city charter that would require top city officials to live in Lawton.

"We want them invested in our community. It will be to form a sense of community," Tanner said.

Instead the council approved a citizens committee to address the matter, and other charter changes if they want.

At the last charter committee meeting, the group asked Tanner to amend his proposal to only include the list of city employees who would be needed in a city-wide emergency situation, like a severe weather event. That proposal should be presented at the next meeting.

But the committee continued on with talking about residency requirements.

Carolyn Steinig, a Lawton resident, didn't understand why public safety was a residency issue.

"There are periodic emergency disaster drills at Fort Sill, Lawton and the Lawton Airport," Steinig said. "All geared toward public safety and those who would be impacted by such events."

Lawton resident Tom Leon was for the change, and wanted  top officials to live in the city that pays them, but that if they lived within 15 to 30 minutes that would be okay too.

A member of the committee John Purcell questioned why they were talking about the residency requirements for public safety reasons at all.

"We've never had a problem with the police chief or the fire chief," Purcell said. "Certainly not the city manager or the city attorney or any of their people who haven't been available for emergencies."

Committee member Amanda Brewer said she is serving the citizens, and the 47 she talked to said yes to residency requirements.

"I don't think it's a crazy idea for us to say hey why don't we have our chief officers within a 20-30 minute response time," Brewer said.

The committee scheduled a meeting next week Monday, March 26th at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. They will have another on April 2 at 5:30 at the same location.

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