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Ballot issues would change local government

October 30, 2013
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Two charter amendments - dealing with term limits and public speaking - will be on the ballot for city residents on Nov. 5.

The first is a charter amendment to permit public comments and questions at all meetings of city boards, commissions, and committees before a final vote is taken. The second sets term limits on city boards, commissions and committees for up to two consecutive three-year terms.

"Term limits are the extension of last year's charter amendment establishing term limits for city council," said Frank Micchia, author of the amendment. "This year's charter amendment continues it for boards, commissions and committees."

He said some people have served on their respective boards for close to two decades and he felt it was time for some new faces and ideas. He said if passed, the term limit amendment would see six out of 22 people forced to step down.

Micchia claimed the new board, committee and commission appointed members would still be able to appoint and exempt one person from term limits if they had the expertise needed for that particular panel.

City Councilman Andy Skrobola said it could mean the loss of valuable members.

Fact Box

A letter to the editor on the charter amendments from city manager Joe Warino can be found in our Letters to the Editor section at http://www.towncrieronline.com/page/content.detail/id/512536/Are-Canfield-s-charter-amendments-necessary-.html?nav=5060

"Current members with the knowledge and background may be eliminated from the boards," Skrobola said.

He said, for example, the park board currently has two long-standing members in Nancy Brundage and Mark Eddy. Brundage has been on the park board for 17 years and has handled the paperwork and ensured the city has met the criteria to be named a Tree City, which it has been for the past 31 years.

Eddy has served for years on the board as well. He is a certified arborist and has lent his expertise in protecting the city's trees.

"By passing this amendment, they may both be gone," Skrobola said, "and there are not a lot of people out there for these positions."

On the second issue, Micchia wants the right to speak at all board, commission and committee meetings prior to any vote being taken. He said it stemmed from one particular incident during a design review committee meeting.

"I attended a design review committee meeting where they were approving the new Dollar General store," Micchia said. "A store representative was being questioned and at the end I raised my hand to ask a question of the representative and was told I couldn't."

Skrobola disagrees with Micchia's charter amendment stating that residents are able to speak during public hearings when time is set aside for such commentary.

"People are being misled that there are no opportunities to people to speak and that is just not the case," Skrobola said. "Frank just wants to be able to speak whenever he wants to speak."

Skrobola and Micchia agree on one thing. They urge voters to look into the charter amendments and understand them before heading to the polls on Nov. 5.

Micchia said it is up to the voters. When he wanted to put the issues on the ballot, he had to go door-to-door to get the needed signatures. He said even then, some were opposed to both amendments, but they signed the petition to simply get it on the ballot.

Skrobola said, "Frank has the right to do what he is doing. No one denies that, but if he would use his efforts in a more positive way, things would be much better. I wish more people would attend our meetings and be involved like Frank."

Last year, Micchia was successful in passing an amendment on the term limits for city council, which was approved by voters. While it is now on the books, what will happen in 2016 is up in the air. Skrobola said in that year, the mayor's term will be up and the city would be in violation of the Ohio Revised Code Section 3501.01 which prohibits municipalities from holding municipal elections in an even numbered year.

"That presents a big problem in 2016 and what is going to happen at that time is a very good question," Skrobola said.

 
 

 

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