STOW – Voters will be looking at two charter amendments on the March 17 ballot.
Issue 2 on the ballot is a proposed charter amendment to section 20.03 about submission of charter amendments to electors from the charter review committee.
Upon approval by two-thirds of council, council shall submit to the electors all such proposed amendments to this charter in accordance, in each instance, with the provisions of the Constitution of Ohio.
Currently the city charter says "Council shall submit to the electors all such proposed amendments to this charter in accordance, in each instance, with the provisions of the Constitution of Ohio."
The city charter is the city’s constitution and it can be amended by a vote of the residents. The Charter Review Commission, which is appointed every five years by the mayor and will convene this year, reviews the charter and suggests changes to it, which are put on the ballot for voters to approve.
Instead of "all" proposed amendments being placed on the ballot automatically, Issue 2 would make changes so that the Charter Review Commission amendments would need to be approved by two-thirds of council before being placed on the ballot for voters to approve.
Council said that in the past city law directors gave different interpretations of the charter and this amendment would make it clear that only amendments approved by council would go on the ballot.
Issue 3 on the ballot is a proposed charter amendment that any Stow resident who meets the charter’s qualifications to serve as mayor may be appointed by council when the mayor steps down before his/her term is completed. If an election is not scheduled within a year, a special election shall be held within six months of the vacancy.
The proposal to change how council appoints a new mayor when there is a vacancy was a result of former Mayor Sara Kline resigning in May 2018 and council having a difficult time finding a replacement.
The current charter requires council to select one of its own members to serve in an interim role until a successor is elected at the next general or special election.
Because most council members had full-time jobs, retired Jim Costello, the then-Ward 2 Councilman, was appointed as the city’s interim mayor. Costello voted against the legislation because he said it should be placed on the ballot by the charter review commission and not council.
The proposal on the ballot would allow council members to appoint someone to a mayoral vacancy who meets the charter’s qualifications to serve as mayor until a successor is elected at the next general or special elections.
This allows a resident or city administrator to be considered, as well as any council member interested in serving.
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org