There are two proposed charter amendments on the ballot for City of Canfield residents to vote on this year. They propose to amend sections 3.01 and 3.05 of the City Charter and would be effective Jan. 1, 2013.
If these amendments are approved they will actually make six changes in Canfield government.
1. Change the term of office for all members of City Council from four years to two years.
2. Change the term of office for Mayor from four years to three years.
3. Limit the number of consecutive terms an individual could serve on City Council to three consecutive two-year terms.
4. Limit the number of consecutive terms of office the Mayor could serve to two consecutive three-year terms.
5. Prevent any city resident who has held "any elective office for more than 6.5 years from running for City Council or Mayor in the 2013 or 2015 election.
6. Removes the current mayor and all but two members of City Council from office at the end of 2013 without declaring who the successors might be. Thus having three new elected officials starting in 2014.
These proposed charter amendments should be DEFEATED for the following reasons.
1. Changing the term of office for any part time elected official in the City of Canfield makes no sense and only opens the door to inefficiency. It has been my experience in my 40+years of local government that it takes newly elected officials a year or more to become familiar with the intricacies of local government. The four=year term provides time for this learning process, plus allows time to develop, evaluate and implement projects before the next election cycle starts. With a shorter term elected officials are just completing the learning process in their first term when they have to run for election again. If they are defeated then someone new starts the learning process and the continuity of long-range program planning is further delayed. The four-year term was chosen by the original framers of our City Charter in 1968 for good reason. It is more efficient.
2. The concept of term limits is provided for in the charter by having the mayor and each member of council serve a four-year term. If the voters are not satisfied with the work the elected official has done, the elected official can be removed by the election process. At the local government level, it is difficult to find good qualified individuals that will serve in a part-time role. If someone spends the time necessary and is doing a quality job, as determined by the voters, why should their service time be limited? Quality people are hard to find and term limits favor the minority.
3. The idea of preventing any current of former elected official from running for office in 2013 or 2015 is ridiculous. I thought the idea was to have the electorate select the best qualified individuals for these positions. Isn't that in Canfield's best interest? If term limits are approved in the future, it seems that everybody participates on day one as though they have never held office. They aren't penalized for previous service. The proposed charter amendments appear to be drafted to create a vacancy in the mayor's office and two vacancies on City Council in the 2013 election without any consideration for the work being done by the individuals holding those positions currently. It appears someone wants to run for office without competition from those currently serving.
4. The City of Canfield will establish a Charter Review Commission next year as it has every five years since the Charter was adopted in 1969. If there are ideas for amending the Charter, the Charter Review Commission would be a great place to start a discussion about proposed changes.
I will vote against the proposed Charter amendments and suggest that every voter do the same.
Charles H. Tieche
Retired Canfield city manager