The board discussed this issue last week and put up a motion to submit the idea to a public hearing. If it went forward, it would have to be put to a public referendum. But the board ended up rescinding the motion, reasoning that there wouldn’t be enough time to hold a public hearing and a referendum in 2012. A referendum on term length can’t be held at the same time that an office is up for election, as supervisor will be again in 2013.
The timing of the motion was also questionable. It was discussed following an executive session on March 16. Generally, those who attend board meetings leave when the board goes into executive session because it can go on for hours and they rarely discuss new business afterward. Councilman Fred Costello said that the timing of the discussion may be legal, “but it doesn’t give the public much of a chance to participate in government when it’s done this way.” While he would support hearing from the public on the matter, he would not support the change, Costello said.
Myers, a Republican, said the office is suited to a four-year term because of its role in coordinating long-term projects that need continuity. Costello, a Democrat, said the terms should stay as they are, because they allow the public to vote on the majority of the board every two years.
“If [the public is] not happy with the way the board is governing they should be able to change the majority,” Costello said.
Myers has since said that she agrees that a majority of the board should be up for election every four years, and that keeping the supervisor’s term at two years would accomplish this.
Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton recalled that when the question of extending the terms of elected officials came up several years ago, former Republican Chairman Michael Catalinotto had opposed extending the supervisor’s term. At the time, the term of the town clerk was extended, while the term of the highway superintendent and supervisor remained at two years.
Costello said he does not object to extending the highway superintendent’s term, as this, like the clerk, is not a policy-making position.
Councilman Jimmy Bruno said he had agreed at first that the supervisor’s term could be extended, but “after I listened to all the arguments, I feel two years is the right term.”