George W. Davis
GREEN: City Council is scheduled to vote July 10 on whether to send seven recommended charter amendments to a citywide vote.
The proposal generating the most interest would increase mayoral term limits from two to three successive four-year terms.
Six of seven council members would have to vote no to keep any of the Charter Review Commission’s recommendations off the Nov. 6 ballot.
Opponents urged council to reject the term-limit increase for the mayor during council’s session Tuesday night.
The five-member review board, appointed by Mayor Dick Norton, made all of its recommendations by unanimous vote, commission chair Susan Allen said.
She said the commission researched about a dozen cities the size of Green with the same form of government and decided to recommend three terms rather than keep the limit at two consecutive terms or dropping term limits for the mayor.
Resident Katie Stoynoff called the recommendation “a bad amendment. It’s bad for multiple reasons, including the process to which the amendment was developed.”
Stoynoff said the amendment is widely unpopular with many people with whom she has spoken. She noted that seven years ago term limits were discussed and kept the way they are for the mayor and council.
Amendment opponent Des Wertheimer also questioned why the topic has come up again.
“Why in the world could there be any reason to change what we’re doing? There isn’t any,” he said.
Dennis Maneval said 2,000 municipalities nationwide impose term limits, with 55 percent capping the mayor to two consecutive four-year terms. He said none has term limits longer for mayor than for council.
After the meeting, Norton told reporters, “I think it is important that you know the idea of it [the amendment] was on their [commission’s] own. When they went through [the process], they felt it was worthy of discussion.”
Norton said he has two views on term limits: He favors them for elected state and federal officeholders, but not necessarily for local positions. He said that is because it is easier to assess performance at the local level than at the state or national level.
“[At the local level) it seems we find we have fewer qualified people willing to run for these positions such as mayor. And that is a huge reason. The other part of it is because even though it would get on the ballot and they would vote in favor of it, [that] doesn’t mean the incumbent gets re-elected.
“It means he can run, and it doesn’t stop anyone else who wants to run. So it seems like the community gets the best of all choices,” Norton said.
Norton said opposition to the amendment doesn’t bother him, but he is troubled with statements he has heard that “the council runs the city.”
“Wow, that’s frightening, only because they don’t do that,” the mayor said.
“You have a strong mayor form of government. [The mayor] is the CEO and chief executive and [he or she] creates what goes on in the city with the support of council. It’s not the other way around.
“Council [members] are part-time people, who never could negotiate with the Diebolds or any other company and deal with the kinds of things we have to deal with, on a part-time basis. You need a chief executive to do that.”
Green’s mayor is paid $85,046 a year.
Norton is in the first year of his second term and said he cannot project his desire to run a third time.
“Three years away is a long time,” he said. “A lot could happen in three years.”
George W. Davis can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.