Canfield voters can choose longer terms for council
By JUSTIN DENNIS
City officials said two-year terms aren’t long enough to learn how to properly run the city and are asking voters to reverse 6-year-old changes to council term limits and lengths.
Currently, council members may serve up to three consecutive two-year terms. Two separate measures that will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot would amend the city’s charter to allow them to serve up to four consecutive four-year terms.
A council-appointed charter review commission recommended the changes this year.
“There’s a learning curve with this – the complexity of public life, Sunshine laws, transparency, the budget. You have a lot of responsibility. You get a lot of calls, a lot of complaints, and you have to learn that,” Mayor Richard Duffett said.
If the term-length extension does not pass, council members Bruce Neff and Christine Oliver must seek election again in 2019. If the term-limit extension doesn’t pass, longtime council members John Morvay and Charles Tieche would be unable to seek re-election next year.
If neither passes, all four council seats will be up for grabs this year – as in the 2017 election – highlighting council’s concern over a full election wipe, which would leave a new council without returning members’ expertise.
Karyn Frederick, charter review commission citizen member, said if Canfield had elected a new mayor, city manager and four new council members in 2017, it would have been “a recipe for disaster.”
“There is so much that goes on in this town that you have to have sort of a foundation of knowledge to continue that work,” she said. “Luckily, we have that sense of history with Chuck and John, who have been there, who have been through those battles, who know what the plan is.”
Before 2012, city council members could serve an unlimited number of four-year terms, if continually re-elected. Former Canfield Mayor William Kay was the first city official to run up against the term limitation.
Frederick said the commission learned Canfield is the only city of its size in the region that imposes its own term limits on council members.
City resident Frank Micchia, whose ballot measures to modify the council term limits and lengths passed in 2012 and 2013, has urged the public to vote down the new measures, which would allow council members to serve up to 16 consecutive years.
“Do we want someone on council for 16 years? That doesn’t make sense. We want people who will bring in fresh ideas, fresh enthusiasm,” Micchia said during the first in a series of public hearings on the ballot measures. “I say to you: Don’t give up your option to review council’s performance every two years.”
One final public hearing on the measures is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at St. Michael Church, 300 N. Broad St.