Westfield City Council approves second-class city status

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Correction: Upon Westfield a second-class city in 2028, the clerk-treasurer’s office will transition to an elected clerk, not an elected treasurer, and a mayor-appointed city controller who will handle the financial duties.

The Westfield City Council voted unanimously to become a second-class city during its Nov. 13 meeting.

Cities with populations between 35,000 and 599,999 can elect to become second-class cities. Prior to the vote, Westfield was the only city eligible to become a second-class city that had not voted to do so.

The passage of Ordinance 23-33 means that Westfield will become a Class 2 city on Jan. 1, 2028. The number of council members will increase from seven to nine, adding a sixth district council member and one at-large member. The clerk-treasurer’s office will transition to an elected clerk and a mayor-appointed city controller.

The council voted against adopting second-class status in June 2022 by a 6-1 vote, with only District 1 councilmember Scott Willis – who is now the mayor-elect — voting for the ordinance.

At-large councilmember Troy Patton formally introduced the ordinance at the Oct. 23 council meeting.

“I am personally for a second-class city knowing we will have a new (mayoral) administration,” Patton said.

Mayor Andy Cook, who did not seek reelection and will leave office when his term expires at the end of the year, also expressed his support for the ordinance.

“I am definitely in favor of it also,” Cook said at the Oct. 23 meeting. “I think it gives the new mayor the chance to have four years to put together a very thoughtful plan process for making that change. It also gives the clerk-treasurer’s office a chance to participate in that change, I hope, realizing they will have changes in that position because of this new ordinance. I encourage both the new mayor and the new clerk to work together to make it as seamless and as beneficial a process as possible.”

Victor McCarty is the only member who will still be seated on the city council in 2024, as he is serving out the remainder of Joe Edwards’ term as District 3 city council member and will move into his elected position as District 2 city council member in January.

“To me, (Class 2 status) means that we get the city finances out of the muddy political water,” McCarty said. “City finances don’t belong in politics. Leave it to the professionals.”

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