THE SECOND of the three questions on the ballot Tuesday would change the city charter to end the requirement that elected city officials resign if they run for a different public office.

The "resign to run" requirement is as old as the charter itself and was designed to tamp down the ambitions of elected officials to use one office to win another.

It was this provision that led Mayor Richardson Dilworth to resign midterm when he ran for governor in 1960, clearing the way for Council President James H.J. Tate to become mayor. And it was this provision that forced John Street to step down as Council president when he officially announced he was a candidate for mayor in 1999.

One important note: If approved, this charter change would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2016, after the next mayor's election. It would not apply to contestants who decide to run next year to succeed Mayor Nutter.

At this point, the prohibition serves little purpose. No other candidates for public office must live under this restriction.

When U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah ran for mayor in 2007, he kept his seat in Congress. State Rep. Dwight Evans, who also ran for mayor, kept his seat as well. Only Councilman Michael Nutter had to relinquish his seat - and his salary - to run for mayor.

We don't see the "resign to run" provision serving a useful purpose in this day and age.

Vote Yes on Question 2.

Question 3 is another matter altogether. The language of that question is obscure, to say the least. It calls for the charter to be amended to require Council approval of "certain contracts for one year or less for the purpose of providing legal representation and related services for indigent persons . . . "

It sounds harmless, until you start to think about it: Why should Council get in the business of approving any city contracts?

When the charter was first debated and passed, it created a strong-mayor form of government, giving the chief executive broad powers.

Recently, though, the trend has been for Council to chip away at the mayor's power. This question is just the latest example.

We'll state our position loud and clear: We want the mayor, who is elected by all the people, to run this city, not Council.

The charter already gives Council the power to authorize the sale or purchase of real estate, a process governed by councilmanic prerogative - the unwritten rule that allows a Council person to delay or halt the sale of property in his or her district.

It puts politics right in the middle of development issues. Anyone who wants to develop on city-owned property knows that he has to kowtow to the district Council person, who could put the sale on hold forever, for any reason.

Now Council wants the right to approve service contracts of under one-year in duration. If this passes, what will stop Council from returning next year with another proposed charter change that gives them approval over all city contracts?

It amounts to a slow-motion Council takeover of the executive branch.

Vote No on Question 3.