Westfield City Council votes against disability advisory council ordinance


The Westfield City Council voted against an ordinance to create an advisory council on disability during its March 14 meeting.

The council voted 5-2 against the ordinance.

Council member Scott Willis presented the ordinance. He said Westfield is behind other cities, such as Fishers and Carmel, which have similar ordinances for disability advisory councils. Willis said an advisory council would give the disability community a larger voice and more input on developments in the city.

Most city council members had concerns about the ordinance, such as growing government, issues with the Open Door policy and that an ordinance wasn’t the best avenue to create an advisory council.

Willis disagreed with the concerns.

“I don’t know why anybody would want it any other way,” Willis said. “This isn’t giving the government more power. It’s giving the power back to the people. It addresses real needs in this community, maybe more so than anything we’ve done as a council since we’ve come in to term.”

Council member Cindy Spoljaric said she advocates giving the disabled community a larger voice but said an ordinance wasn’t the best way to go about it. She said she worked with Steve Latour, the executive director of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and said that the chamber might be a better home for the group.

Spoljaric also said if the ordinance passed, committee members wouldn’t be allowed to meet in a group without violating Open Door policy.

Council member Scott Frei said the government “definitely” shouldn’t be involved in the committee but also doesn’t think the chamber of commerce was the best place for an advisory council. He suggested the committee be formed and led by a community member and then work in tandem with the government rather than being created by a government ordinance.

Councilor Jake Gilbert, who voted with Willis in favor of the ordinance, said the ordinance hadn’t been handled well.

“You still have my support, but I don’t think all the no votes are not also supportive,” Gilbert said. “They’re just from their expertise up here that (an ordinance) is not the best way to help you.”

Council President Mike Johns suggested the group become involved with the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and maybe after a year of operation, it could return to the council for another vote in order to be codified.

For more, visit westfield.in.gov.