Wolfforth working to empower residents with new city charter

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 7:18 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Wolfforth city council is taking the first steps to creating a new city charter.

Wolfforth’s City Manager Randy Criswell says it’s the first step in empowering its residents.

“It’s time for Wolfforth to reflect on who we want to be,” Criswell said. “The charter allows us to do that, and hopefully our citizens will see the same thing.”

With a population of more than 5,000 people, Criswell says it’s time for Wolfforth to establish home rule with the creation of a new city charter.

Right now, the city operates under general law, meaning the state holds the majority of power in governing the city.

“A general law city is really in a lot of ways kinda governed by the state and controlled to some degree by the state,” Criswell said. “Whereas a home rule city controls itself with only prohibitions by the state having any effect on how they do business.”

That means residents will have more influence at the ballot box. Establishing a charter gives them the power to force votes on new city ordinances, or to force a recall of a past election.

“General law cities don’t have that authority, it’s not granted,” Criswell said.

Criswell says under home rule, residents decide how their government is shaped and how it addresses the issues facing the city.

“It defines who’s going to do what,” Criswell said. “What positions there with be, what our authority will be, what our form of government will be, and how we will govern ourselves.

The city is still in the earliest phases of its plan right now. Working to establish a charter commission of 15 people to oversee its creation.

“We’re actually accepting applications for people to be appointed to that charter commission,” Criswell said.

It will be a tight deadline for the commission the city hopes to have a charter ready for voters to approve by November.