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Canfield needs charter amendments

September 12, 2012
The Town Crier

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to the letter to the editor in the Sept. 6 Town Crier regarding term limits for council. As the circulator of the charter amendments for term limits, a response is in order.

I feel that an unlimited number of relatively long terms is not in the best interest of the residents of Canfield. This fosters complacency, stagnation, and creates a sense of entitlement. The proposed charter amendments place a limit on the number of terms and shortens each term. This will allow new people to bring fresh ideas and new enthusiasm into the council. These positions are not meant to be long-term jobs or entitlements to the incumbents. They are an opportunity to serve the community for a defined period of time. Then allow others to do the same. The proposed amendments call for shorter terms and a maximum of six continuous years of service for either the mayor or council persons. That includes incumbents with more that six and a half years of continuous service. Shorter terms mean we can hold council accountable for results without having to wait four years.

Let me respond to the four points in the letter. First of all, the letter was written by an ex-city official who I expect would oppose any such change to the existing system. Old ideas are firmly entrenched. In summarizing the proposed changes, he neglected to mention that any member of council who cannot be re-elected, may sit out one term and run for office again.

Point #1. "It takes a year or more to become familiar with the intricacies of local government." I don't want a council member practicing decisions with my money or ordinances that apply to the city! If a person wants to be on council, they have a responsibility to prepare themselves. Attend City Council meetings for six months, read all the meeting minutes for the last two years, read the city charter and all the ordinances. Bring a desire to represent the residents. Be able to productively participate immediately. City Council is not a training ground.

Point #2. "It is difficult to find good qualified individuals that will serve in a part-time role." Am I to believe that in this city of approximately 4,000 well-educated, responsible adults we cannot find five people to serve the city? Apparently I have more faith in the people of the city. Quality people are not hard to find in Canfield.

Point #3. The proposed charter amendments limit continuous service to six years. If incumbents have more than six and a half years, they are not eligible for re-election without sitting out one term. "It appears that someone wants to run for office without competition from those currently serving." As for myself, I AM NOT RUNNING. I did not put all the time and effort into these charter amendments for personal gain.

Point #4. "The Charter Review Commission would be a great place to start a discussion about proposed changes." The commission meets once every five years. Any change must be put to the ballot. Citizens can initiate change. Time for citizens to speak up.

Term limits are a hot political topic nowadays. We do not need long-term politicians who get too comfortable with their office. Let's lead the way and bring new people and ideas into our city. This is not an issue of "keeping my friends in office," but one of making Canfield a better place to live. New people, new ideas and a proactive approach to the city's issues. I encourage all residents to VOTE FOR THE CHARTER AMENDMENTS!

Frank A. Micchia,

Canfield resident



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