Stow voters on Tuesday decided for a charter amendment which was said to be intended to close a loophole regarding term limits for the municipality’s elected offices. The change will take effect next year.
The proposal, which appeared as Issue 27 on the General Election ballot, was approved by a tally of 11,994 votes to 2,563 votes, according to final, but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections.
Currently the charter states that "no elected official shall serve more than eight consecutive years in the same elected office." On the ballot, voters saw 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."
"Time and time again, Stow voters have overwhelmingly affirmed their desire for air-tight term limits," City Council Member Mike Rasor (At-Large) said. Charter amendments imposing eight-year limits on City Council and finance director were approved by a majority of residents in 2010. In that same election, a majority of residents voted against charter amendments to repeal the existing eight-year limits on the mayor and law director offices.
In June, 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. Costello’s proposal did not garner the necessary votes to advance to the ballot; however, a revised version of Costello’s proposal, introduced by Rasor on the evening of the vote, did by a 5-1 margin. Rasor’s version omitted the language relating to the unexpired term counting against an elected office holder.
Costello then vetoed the legislation and Rasor asked for a legal opinion to address "whether a veto is even effective to stop the proposal from being presented to the voters, given that the charter only requires ‘five votes,’ not necessarily an adopted ordinance or resolution."
Stow Law Director Amber Zibritosky issued an opinion that the ballot issue could proceed, saying while the mayor has the legislative authority to veto the proposed charter amendment ordinance, his action is "insufficient to block the proposed amendment from reaching the ballot."