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Macedonia Charter Review Commission works on updating the Charter.

by Briana Barker | Reporter Published: April 1, 2015 12:00 AM

Macedonia -- Proposals for big changes to the city's charter could be presented to Council in coming weeks.

The city's Charter Review Commission, which is required to be convened every five years, last reviewed the Charter in 2009, when the commission proposed reducing the number of members on Council from six members to five. Council agreed to put the proposal on the ballot, and voters approved the change.

This year, Commission members Peggy Spraggins, Tena Hannah, Chuck Loparo, Ken Martin, David Milstein and former Mayor Joe Miglorini, chaired by Councilman David Engle, are reviewing the way the city's mayoral election is held, are suggesting the mayor's court and building department could be done away with, and may propose changes to the process of removing department heads and council members.

The commission is scheduled to continue its discussions on April 8 and is scheduled to make a final vote on its recommendations on April 15. After that, City Council will decide which, if any, of its recommendations will be put up for a final decision by voters in November.

One proposal the Commission has been discussing is the possibility of having a runoff election for mayor, or holding a mayoral primary election in September, to narrow the field of candidates down prior to the final election in November.

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At the March 18 meeting, Milstein suggested holding a primary election similar to Twinsburg and Solon's election process, where the top two vote-getters go on to the November election.

"A simple majority of the people voting in election should be electing our Mayor, not 20 percent," Milstein said, referring to the city's current system, where every mayoral candidate is on the ballot in November. "In order for that to happen we can't have six candidates for Mayor."

Spraggins suggested a runoff election, which some municipalities use when the highest vote-getter receives less than 50 percent of the vote. In that case the two highest vote getters would advance to a run-off after the November election.

Councilor Sylvia Hanneken, who ran for mayor in the last election, spoke in favor of the primary election, adding she believes something needs to be done with the current system.

"The one good thing about having this primary concept ... is that it eliminates all the cognitive dissonance very early so you know who the choices are at November," Hanneken said.

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Loparo disagreed with the majority and said he didn't see anything wrong with having four people on the mayoral ballot.

"In 40 years here it has been working, why change it?" Loparo asked

Milstein said it is not working and he referenced the 2011 Mayoral election.

"If just one candidate had not run this past election we would have a different mayor today," Milstein said.

Martin and Miglorini were not present at the March 18 meeting.

The commission decided to keep discussing the proposal at its April 8 meeting.

The commission also discussed eliminating the mayor's court and building department provisions in the charter.

Members said the city may be better off financially without having to pay for mayor's court operations.

Regarding the building department, "I don't think we are ready for the building department right now. We are busy," Spraggins said.

Milstein said the proposal would allow the city to contract out the building department work if it choose to do so, another possible cost savings.

Loparo expressed concern regarding elimination of mayor's court, explaining police officers would have to take extra time to travel to the Stow Municipal Court, where the city's criminal cases would all be heard.

Commissioners also discussed the process of removing a Council member from office. Commission members said they would like to correct the Charter's wording to be consistent with the number of members of Council since there only five members on Council now.

Commission members suggested eliminating Council's ability to remove a member by a three-quarter majority vote. Instead, the removal of Councilors would be handled by the electorate through recall elections. After further discussion, commissioners decided a recall might not happen fast enough if the allegation was bad enough.

Hanneken told the Commission she has no problem with recall, but feels there needs to be a quick fix if a Council member commits a crime.

Removal of directors or department heads was also a discussed. The question was whether the Council should affirm terminations made by the Mayor.

While Spraggins said she feels Council should not be involved, Engle said the directors serve the mayor and Council, therefore Council should have a "dog in the fight."

Hannah said she agrees with the current process, where a majority of Council is required to approve a termination. Milstein said he thinks a vote of three out of five Council members should be sufficient to uphold a termination.

For Charter Review Commission recommendations to make it on the November ballot, Council would have to approve them for a vote before the Aug. 5 filing deadline.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432

bbarker@recordpub.com

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