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City Council puts two issues before voters

August 8, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

In a special meeting of the Canfield City Council on Aug. 1, council decided to put two issues on the November ballot after receiving the recommendations of the Charter Review Commission. Both issues had to deal with the terms served by council members.

In total, four recommendations were submitted from the Charter Review Commission. Three dealt with term limits and one with electronic media.

The first recommendation was voted down by Council. It involved the inclusion of electronic media notifications. Presently, the city ordinances call for notifications to be sent by written notice. With the move towards electronic communications, the commission felt it was time to include that as a way to put out notices.

"Why does this need to go on the ballot?" asked resident Kathryn Young. "Aren't we already doing this?"

It was also noted that the change was not a very controversial one and it didn't have to go on the ballot. City Council could approve it at a future meeting. Council decided to turn it down as an ordinance to put it on the ballot. Instead, it will be presented at a future regular meeting of Council. That way it can go into effect sooner as opposed to waiting for months to add it. The issue would add electronic notice to the existing written notice.

The next three issues dealt with term limits. The commission felt the term limits were not suitable enough to properly run the city. The commission stated three problems with the present term limits. First was the terms were too short to get things done. Second was the lack of staggered terms with all council coming up for re-election at the same time. The third was the number of terms didn't allow for council members to complete big projects.

Not everyone agreed with the recommendations the commission made. Resident Frank Micchia, who campaigned to get the present term limits passed, reminded everyone of the election.

"In today's political environment, term limits are a hot topic," Micchia said. "Now Council is going to step on a third rail and change the total time served from a potential of six years to 12 and 16 years," he said. "Are you really serious. No one should be in office that long. These positions are not careers. We need to continually refresh our city government and get new and fresh ideas."

Defending the recommendations, City Manager Wade Calhoun said, "From an operational standpoint, what we do [in city government] is to look three, five, and seven years into the future. If we are going to do any long-term planning, we need continuity."

City Attorney Mark Fortunato backed up Calhoun and gave the example of trying to get a new freeway exit. He said it takes 10 years and there are checks and balances built into that time span.

After hearing several speakers on both sides of the issue, council made the decision in a 4-0 vote (Councilman Chuck Tieche was absent) to place the issue of changing the term length from the present two years, to four years.

The second issue of how many terms a council person could serve would change it from three terms to four terms. This issue brought on a different aspect on what was recommended.

"By putting too many issues on the ballot, a lot won't understand it," said resident Sherry Brown. "I feel narrowing the ballot would be better for everyone."

A discussion followed on putting too many issues on the ballot. Council had already voted 4-0 to put the number of term limits one could serve from 3 to 4 terms. After discussing putting to much on the November ballot, Councilman Bruce Neff called to reconsider the vote. That vote fell 3-1 with Neff being the only vote for reconsidering. That meant the issue of how many term limits will also be on the ballot along with the length of time for a term.

The fourth issue involved changing the number of terms for the Mayor to serve from three to four. That issue ended in a 2-2 vote and thus will not appear on the November ballot.



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