Canfield officials answer questions about council terms



City officials Wednesday had the first in a series of public meetings on two proposed changes to the city’s charter, which would extend term limits and term lengths for council members.

Currently, council members may serve up to three consecutive two-year terms. Two separate charter amendments that will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot would allow them to serve up to four consecutive four-year terms. A council-appointed charter review commission recommended the changes this year.

If the term length extension does not pass in November, council members Bruce Neff and Christine Oliver must seek election again in 2019. If the term limit extension doesn’t pass, longtime council members John Morvay and Charles Tieche would be unable to seek re-election in 2019.

All four council seats will be up for grabs as in the 2017 election, highlighting council’s concern over a full election wipe, which would leave a new council without returning members’ expertise.

“When we elect our council, they should be staggered term limits, so one election doesn’t replace everyone,” Neff said.

“We’re not doing it for our own advantage – we’re doing it because we love Canfield. It’s our city, it’s your city and we appreciate the support.”

Morvay, an eight-year councilman elected just before term limits were halved in 2012, said a two-year term is “simply not enough time” to plan and execute infrastructure developments as he was able during his tenure, specifically mentioning the Red Gate Farm property along U.S. Route 224, which council annexed earlier this month from Canfield Township, with the intent to develop.

Forty-year city resident Frank Micchia, who collected the signatures needed for the 2012 ballot measure that shortened council term lengths to two years, said the measure passed by a “substantial” margin despite the previous council’s opposition because their public opinion was not favorable.

“They just didn’t seem to be getting things done. They didn’t seem to connect well with the people,” he said after the Wednesday meeting, adding that council has been completely refreshed since the 2012 measure passed.

He urged attendees to vote no on the upcoming measures, which would allow council members to serve up to 16 consecutive years.

“Do we want someone on council for 16 years? That doesn’t make sense. We want people who will bring in fresh ideas, fresh enthusiasm,” Micchia said. “I say to you: Don’t give up your option to review council’s performance every two years.”

City Attorney Mark Fortunato earlier told the charter review commission that surrounding cities do not have term limit rules in their charters, citizen member Karyn Fredrick reported Wednesday. Canfield City Manager Wade Calhoun said most cities defer to the state’s default four-year terms.

The remaining commission meetings are set for 6 p.m. at these locations:

Sept. 26 at Fair Park, 320 Oak St.

Oct. 9 in the Joyce Brooks Center at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, 7300 N. Palmyra Road

Nov. 1 at Fair Park, 320 Oak St.