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.
As proposed and adopted Thursday by a 5-1 margin by City Council, the proposal would ensure that someone leaving office early would not be allowed to restart the term limit of that same office, said At-Large Councilman Mike Rasor. Ward 3 Councilman Brian Lowdermilk cast the dissenting vote and Ward 4 Councilman Bob Adaska was absent.
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."
Lowdermilk said he believes the people of Stow have spoken many times by voting in favor of term limits.
Interim Mayor James 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. A vote on Costello’s proposal failed by a vote of 4-1, with Lowdermilk opposed.
Rasor, however, had presented two additional versions of the ordinance to his colleagues, and one was moved to the floor for a vote. That version omitted the language relating to the unexpired term counting against an elected office holder. By the time Council cast ballots on Rasor’s amended legislation, Council President Matt Riehl (Ward 1) had arrived to the meeting and his affirmative vote gave the measure the necessary votes to advance to the fall ballot.
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 said he would not run 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 one who had filed by Wednesday’s deadline to be on the November ballot to fill the unexpired term. The filing deadline for write-in candidates is Aug. 27 at 4 p.m.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.