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Two sides develop over Afton charter referendum

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TThe talk of the town down in Afton right now is the possibility of becoming a charter city.

On the one side you have the Afton Charter Commission who was responsible for drafting the charter. On the other side you have the Concerned Afton Citizens group who adamantly opposes the document and the prospect of Afton becoming a charter city.

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"Naturally there's always going to be two sides," Charter Commission vice chair Kate McGinn said. "We knew a group would come out of the woodwork to defeat the charter."

The proposed Afton City Charter was approved earlier this summer.

A charter city is one in which the governing system is defined by the city's own charter document rather than by state, provincial, regional or national laws.

Currently there are about 107 charter cities throughout Minnesota.

The proposed Afton charter addresses several areas relating to the city -- including boundaries, powers of the city, ordinances, form of government, elected offices, procedures, elections, petitions and referendums.

"The charter is a good fit for our small community of Afton based on the way it operates," McGinn said.

The Concerned Afton Citizens group is made up of former charter commission members as well as residents.

In addition to spreading information about the charter, the citizens group has also launched a website called "No Charter."

According to the website, the Concerned Afton Citizens group opposes the charter because: home rule charter government is inappropriate for a small city; the proposed charter for Afton is bloated and seriously flawed, will handcuff city government, and will allow small special interest groups to dictate city laws and policies.

The website also claims that the charter would cost the city money.

Members of the Concerned Afton Citizens did not respond to inquiries before press time.

The Afton Charter will go before Afton residents to decide on the Nov. 2 ballot. In order to go into effect, the charter has to pass with a simple majority.

McGinn said she hopes Afton residents will read the charter and make up their own minds about the document, rather than turning to the website.

McGinn claims that the "No Charter" website includes inaccurate information.

"My hope of course is that the citizens of Afton will actually read the charter rather than the rhetoric of those against it -- the charter pretty much speaks for itself," she said. "Our goal is to encourage people to read it and make an intelligent decision and not be scared off."

Visit ww.aftoncharter.org for more information on the Afton Charter and the Afton Charter Commission.

Visit www.aftonnocharter.org for more information on the Concerned Afton Citizens group and its opposition of the charter.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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