STOW — City voters in the Nov. 6 General Election will decide the fate of a proposed charter amendment which proponents say is intended to close a loophole.
The proposal, which will appear as Issue 27 on the ballot, would ensure that someone leaving office early would not be allowed to restart the term limit of that same office, says Councilman Mike Rasor (At Large).
"I'm one of a handful of city leaders who has adamantly supported city term limits, and opposed attempts to repeal them," Rasor told the Stow Sentry. "I support this charter amendment, because it will tighten up our term limits, by closing a loophole that otherwise would have allowed a person to resign from a seat early in order to reset the term-limits clock."
Currently the charter states that "no elected official shall serve more than eight consecutive years in the same elected office." On the ballot, voters will see the proposed addition of the following language to that sentence: "or be elected to more than two consecutive four year terms in the same elected office for the offices of Mayor, Finance Director and Law Director and no more than four consecutive two year terms in the same elected office for the offices of City Council, Ward or At-Large."
Mayor James M. Costello had proposed amending the charter to ensure that someone is not penalized for filling an unexpired term of an elected office, and also to ensure that someone leaving office early would not be allowed to restart the term limit of that same office. Costello’s version of the proposal would have extended term limits beyond eight years, if a person was appointed to a seat prior to being elected. That clause was stricken from the final version.
The mayor subsequently vetoed the ordinance, saying in a memo to Council that he’d prefer instead for the matter to be considered by the city’s 2020 Charter Review Commission. He also chided members of City Council, accusing them of "political agenda shenanigans" that he alleged did not permit a thorough review of the proposed charter change that was intended for the ballot. Stow Law Director Amber Zibritosky issued an opinion that the ballot issue could proceed.
Costello temporarily left his Ward 2 Council seat after he was appointed interim mayor by his colleagues earlier this year after former Mayor Sara Kline resigned from the seat to take the superintendent position with the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Department. Costello is not running for election in November to the unexpired term of the mayor’s seat and will return to his Council seat following that election. Councilman John Pribonic is the only candidate who has filed to be on the November ballot to fill the unexpired mayoral term.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, email@example.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.