Green residents speak out on term limit increase for mayor
GREEN — Green voters could decide this November if they want to give a city mayor — including the current mayor — the opportunity to serve a third term.
A public hearing was held during the June 26 Green City Council meeting concerning seven proposed amendments to the city charter.
One of changes, as suggested by the Charter Review Commission, would permit the city mayor to serve three consecutive four-year terms, as opposed to two consecutive four-year terms, as is currently allowed by the charter.
Susan Allen, of the commission, said lengthy discussions took place regarding the issue, and other municipalities’ charters were examined before the recommendation was made.
Several residents were in attendance to voice their opposition to the proposed change, however.
Resident Katie Stoynoff called the amendment “a bad one.”
She questioned how the amendment came about and encouraged those in attendance to study the minutes of the Charter Review Committee meetings.
Stoynoff stated term limits serve a purpose and should not be changed based on the current person holding the position.
Mayor Dick Norton currently is in his first year of his second and final four-year term, if the amendment to the charter is not approved.
“People want fresh ideas and appreciate change and new prospective,” she said.
Stoynoff asked Council to “think long and hard about what the amendment really is about.”
She said allowing the mayor to serve three four-year terms would “devalue” the office of Council, as Council members only are permitted by the charter to serve two four-year terms.
Resident Dennis Maneval also spoke out against the possible term limit change during the public hearing and said a mayor should not be allowed to serve longer than a member of Council.
Resident Carl Mickelson, who helped draft the original charter 20 years ago, said he believes two successful terms still are “sufficient.”
Norton, who spoke on the issue after the regular meeting, said he believes term limits are important on the state and national level, where many more qualified individuals come forward to run for office, but they are not as important on the local level. He explained fewer qualified people tend to run for local positions, such as mayor, than they do at the state and national levels. Norton added it is easier for a voter to assess how a local official is doing in office because he or she has the opportunity to interact with that incumbent.
He believes it would be beneficial for Green voters to give a high-performing mayor the opportunity to run for a third term. It does not mean he or she would be re-elected, but it means he or she could run again, the mayor said. If the chance for a third term is not available, then residents risk putting someone of lower skill in the position, Norton added.
If the charter change is approved in the November election, Norton said he may not choose to seek a third term. Norton did recognize some members of the commission would like him to serve another term, however.
“It is important to note the commission came up with this notion on its own,” he said. “Their reasoning seems logical, and they asked for my opinions after they discussed it for a while.”
Norton said he is not offended by the opposition to the proposed change. He is, however, alarmed so many people don’t recognize how important the position of mayor is in Green.
He said Council does not run the city; the mayor serves as the chief executive and works full time, while Council members devote part-time hours to their positions.
Members of Council said they would reserve their comments on the matter until it is voted on at the July 10 meeting.
Council President Joel Reed (at large) explained the proposed charter changes, including the issue of the mayor’s term limit, would be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 6 General Election as long as more than one Council member approves of each change.
“Unless six members vote against them, then the proposed charter changes would be placed on the ballot,” he said.
The additional charter changes being proposed would require a mayor to treat the position as a full-time job; create new time limits for Council to fill a Council vacancy and only allow a new Council person to be appointed between 30 and 45 days after a vacancy occurs; change how Civil Service employees obtain positions, which no longer would be based on test scores alone; allow 15 percent of the 7 percent of income tax revenues allocated to the city parks and recreation program to be used for special events and programming; and allow Council to correct typographical errors in the charter and make corrections so it is in compliance and consistent with state law.
Also during the meeting, Des Wertheimer, of Concerned Citizens Against Casinos, discussed his group’s efforts to ban casinos from the community.
The group currently is seeking signatures for a ballot initiative to ban all gambling in Green. Wertheimer said this would not impact nonprofit organizations’ events or the sale of lottery tickets, but it would keep “racinos,” casinos and video gaming establishments from locating in the city.
“This is the only avenue we have as residents to stop Thistledown from moving to Green,” he said.
In April, Norton confirmed Rock Ohio Caesars, controllers of the Thistledown Racetrack in North Randall and owners of Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, expressed interest in relocating Thistledown to 80 acres of land owned by the Akron-Canton Airport on Greensburg Road.
Wertheimer said residents could sign the ballot initiative July 9 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the John Torok Community/Senior Center, 4224 Massillon Road.
He added only 901 signatures are needed to put the issue on the ballot for the Nov. 6 General Election.
Also during the regular meeting, Council approved changing the zoning classification of approximately 250 acres of land located on the east side of Massillon Road, west side of Interstate 77 and north and south sides of Wise Road from current uses (Single-Family, Professional Office, Neighborhood Business and General Industrial) to Planned Development and accepted the general development plan for the Union Square and Park Place developments. The Union Square development will house the new world headquarters for Diebold.
Additionally at the meeting, Council waived the three-reading rule and approved legislation accepting the second replat of the Arlington Ridge Subdivision. Councilman Gerard Neugebauer (at large) explained the replat impacts four parcels, three of which are owned by the same party, and is necessary so an addition could be put on to an existing hotel and a new hotel could be constructed. He said the proposed project involves the addition of 23 rooms to Hampton Inn on South Arlington Road and the construction of a Residence Inn next to Hampton Inn. Neugebauer said the Residence Inn would be a four-story, 80-suite facility to accommodate extended-stay customers.
Council also approved legislation:
• allowing the city administration to prepare and submit applications to participate in the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement Program for the Steese Road reconstruction project;
• allotting $125,000 for emergency repairs to the Fortuna Drive traffic signalization recently damaged in a truck accident;
• awarding contracts to Northstar Asphalt and Massillon Asphalt for the 2012 Road Asphalt Materials Project;
• accepting the recommendations of the Tax Incentive Review Council regarding enterprise zone agreements within the city;
• approving an agreement with Brandstetter Carroll Inc. in the amount of $45,000 for architectural services for future improvements to the restroom facilities at Greensburg and Boettler Parks; and
• committing $15,000 of matching funds toward the Moving Ohio Forward Grant Program to demolish vacant and blighted residential properties.
Prior to the Council meeting, during the Transportation, Connectivity and Storm Water Committee meeting, Public Service Director Randall Monteith discussed this year’s paving schedule. He said bids would go out soon for the paving of Heckman Road from Mayfair Road to the east corporation line; Shriver Road from Steese Road to Greensburg Road; Mayfair Road from the railroad tracks to the south corporation line; and South Arlington Road from Nimisila Road to the south corporation line. The paving would begin in September and wrap up by the end of the year, Monteith said. In addition, strip patching would be done on state Route 619, Provens Drive and Mayfair and Raber roads and possibly Beachnut Drive, he said. Monteith added the strip patching would be done by the city.
Also during the committee meeting, Councilman Dave France (Ward 2) announced that an update on the city’s storm water issues and improvement projects would be presented during the Council study session of the regular meeting Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Central Administration Building (CAB), 1755 Town Park Blvd.
In other city business:
√ The new Green Auto Mile, a group of auto dealers located on South Arlington Road, will hold a kick-off event July 26-28 with special sales, family activities, food vendors and raffles, Norton announced; and
√ Summa Health Systems’ new emergency department, located off of Massillon Road, will hold a grand-opening event for the public July 2 at 5:30 p.m., the mayor said.
Council’s next meeting is set for July 10 beginning at 5 p.m. for committee meetings and continuing at 7 p.m. for the Council meeting in Council Chambers at the CAB.
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