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March 4, 2013

Clarksville explores move to city

Experts discuss options with committee




Getting the word out

The committee will make a recommendation to the town council on which direction to take and whether to put the city/town vote on the ballot for the next election. That recommendation could possibly come by August.

Gilkey said the measure was put to referendum four times and defeated in each instance. He said the key will be education of voters.

“The biggest problem the average person in town is going to have is they have a preconceived notion right now — based on historic inertia rather than based on true facts,” Gilkey said. “A lot of people are going to look at it from, ‘Well, this is the way we’ve always done it, I don’t see a need to change,’ but they haven’t really explored things to the point that this committee will.”

Jim Kenney, who also sits on the committee, said after they figure out whether to go with town hall meetings or other formats for spreading the word, they can print it in the sewer bill that goes to each resident.

But Gilkey said he’s not sure that’s the most efficient way to spread the information.

“Let me ask a silly question,” Gilkey said. “Has anybody in here ever read anything other than what they owe on their sewer bill? The only thing I’ve ever looked at is the amount and the due date.”

Cary Stemle, the committee’s communication officer, said it will take a lot of coordination to get information to voters, but some of it could be accomplished online.

Kenney also said surveys with specific questions about different issues that come with moving from a town to a city could give the committee a better feel for what constituents think about the idea.

But before it gets to that point, Gilkey said informing voters is a paramount step in the process.

“I’m reticent to ask someone to make a decision on something before they understand the facts and the background,” Gilkey said. “I think you need to be very careful about the input you solicit prior to the information stages.”

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