By Carolyn Marnon – After a public hearing on October 18 during the city council meeting, the city council voted 5-2 to establish even year elections. Councilmen John Rhaesa and Tom Porter were the dissenting votes.
The city council had passed a resolution at the August 4 meeting to prepare a recommendation to establish even-year elections. Public Act 523 of 2012 allows the city council by resolution to extend the terms of its members by one year and change the cycle of elections to even years. According to the Act, terms can be extended but not shortened. A public hearing is required to make the change.
City Clerk Matthew Miller thought that consolidation of elections would be a benefit to the city. With staff reductions in the clerk’s office and the many duties Mr. Miller is assigned, the change would allow the remaining staff to function better and more efficiently while also saving the city money. The General Fund expenditure for holding both a Primary and a General odd-year election for local officers is approximately $40,000.
As a result of the resolution being passed, elections for local officers will now be in even-years beginning November 2018. The terms of Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Miller and Councilmen Ryan Gabriel and Terry Sutton, which would have expired in November 2017, will be extended to November 2018. The terms of Councilmen John Rhaesa, Tom Porter and Chris Sanders, which would have expired in November 2019, will be extended to November 2020. Mayor Susan Rowe’s term, which was to expire November 2017, will expire November 2018. As a result of the vote, half of the city residents will not have the opportunity to run for City Council in three years.
Although those in attendance agreed that the city needs to save money, there was concern that several councilmen were not voted into their positions by their wards. Some citizens felt they didn’t have representation on the council by a member of their own ward district. Requests were made to adopt the resolution, but not until after the next election.
According to amendments to the Wayne City Charter in 2014, the city council approved apportioning the city into six, single-member districts for the election of council members. Districts 1, 2, and 3 were instituted in 2015, and the ballot stated that districts 4, 5, and 6 shall be effective in the Primary and General election in 2017. Candidates for the districts will be required to have their principal residence in their district at the time of their election or appointment and throughout their tenure. The amendments also state that beginning in 2014, no person shall be eligible for re-election as a council member or as mayor if that person has previously served a total of 16 years or more in the position of council member or mayor or a combination thereof.