By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
The Charter Revision Commission held a special meeting on Monday, March 26, to discuss the possible restructuring of term limits for elected officials, specifically, the mayor and city council.
The idea was brought forward by citizen, Rick St. George, at a special meeting on March 19. St. George said he felt the current system, four sets of two-year terms, should be restructured to two sets of four-year terms.
“For successive terms right now, two-years each, would be eight years. I’d like to see that changed to two four-year terms,” said St. George. “I think when we elect a mayor, four-year terms would be a little bit better for them. They have to set an agenda, it usually takes them three to four months. I’m a current resident of Bristol, but I was told by a friend of mine who’s lived here all his life that usually on a (two) year term, within the next year, the last four months they’re running for office, so for some reason, you have a mayor that gets elected to a two-year term, and she has a pretty forthright agenda, she won’t be able to put it in play unless she gets reelected.”
In the March 26, meeting, Commissioners Laurie Scottie, Sandra Bogdanski, and Michele Roalf agreed, but Roalf shared some concerns, namely, that elected officials need to be held to the same standards of behavior and protocol as city employees.
“While I believe it’s a good idea, I did have some concerns,” said Roalf. “I believe after last meeting, we had that we truly do need to work on having our public officials held to the same standards as the city employees, or held to that same standard, and I want to make sure that we are able to possibly have a section in the charter that says “sexual harassment, workplace threats” instead of it being in a generic section of honor and code. My input would be, unless we have something in the charter, having four years of putting the city at risk for lawsuits and making us vulnerable, four years would be way too long.”
Commissioner and Chair Calvin Brown agreed saying that there needs to be a way to “check that power”.
“I tend to agree with you,” said Brown. “If you’re going to have a four-year term, you better have a way to check that power, in case in any way, there’s an abuse of that power. The way that I would like to account for that, and this is just me, would be a four-year term for mayor, and, I feel very strongly that council should remain at a two-year term. Because, that is the way for the voters to check the power of the executive.”
Commissioner Jon FitzGerald agreed with the idea of four-year terms, but disagreed with Brown’s suggestion of the council remaining at two years. Instead, FitzGerald suggested that both the council and the mayor have four-year terms, but they should be staggered, similar to a previously proposed idea for the Board of Education.
Commissioner Harold Kilby believes a complicated process may deter voters.