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Charter change causes turnover, confusion

Friday, December 14, 2012

By susan tebben

An amendment to the Canfield city charter that established term limits for elected officials is the unfortunate result of voters not having all the information, according to officials.

The charter change will come into effect in November 2013, ending the runs of most of the city council and the mayor.

“People, voters, whoever you are, really don’t take the time to read what they’re dealing with,” said council member Andy Skrobola, who is serving in his second term and will not be able to run in 2013 because of the change.

The amendments were placed on the ballot because city resident Frank Micchia gathered signatures from 10 percent of city residents who voted in the previous gubernatorial election on a petition to make the changes.

Skrobola, fellow councilman Dan Frazzini and Mayor William Kay — who will all reach the end of their term limits this year — said they have heard from residents who signed the petition and who voted for the term limits. The residents admitted they didn’t understand what they were signing or approving on the ballot.

“If voters realistically understood what they were voting for, it would have come out differently,” Skrobola said. “People have the responsibility to read what they’re signing. It’s not the petitioner’s fault.”

Frazzini and Kay both said they agreed with term limits despite their feelings on how the petition was conducted.

“It’s nice to have a change, so you can have a fresh start, I agree with that,” said Frazzini, a sixth-generation Canfield resident.

Kay said he is sure good candidates will arise in the next election to take his place and the place of the outgoing council members, but some longtime committee members and elected officials are not there because of politics.

“Is your dentist stale because he’s worked for that long?” Kay said. “For the most part, the people that are in local government are there because they care about Canfield.”

In the November election, two council members will be elected to a one-time term of three years, followed by two-year terms, with a maximum of three-consecutive terms. Members will be elected to terms of two years with a maximum of three-consecutive terms in future elections.

The mayor can serve a term of three years and a maximum of two consecutive terms starting in 2013.

According to city manager Joseph Warino, the city’s charter was established in 1970, and since that time, council and the mayor have served four-year terms with no term limits.

The outgoing council members said they hoped voters in the 2013 ele tion make sure to research before voting. There are four council members.

“People don’t comprehend what the local government is about,” Skrobola said. “There has to be more education than there is.”

Councilman Steve Rogers is in his second term as well but was appointed during the first and was re-elected in 2009. John Morvay is in the first year of his first term after being elected in November 2011. He is the only councilman not yet affected by the change.

Skrobola, Frazzini and Kay will not be able to run again until 2017. None said they have the intention of doing so.