The Town of Davidson is considering a change in the town charter that would lengthen the terms of future mayors and commissioners from the current 2 to 4 years and stagger commissioners’ terms so not all are elected at once.
Under state law, the board can enact the change itself, after a public hearing and vote. Some local residents think it should be put to a referendum, and are considering starting a petition drive calling for a citizen vote.
What do you think? Read more background below, or take our 2-question survey now.
The board has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed ordinance Tuesday, May 10, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall. A vote on approval could come at the board’s June 14 meeting, also at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
Town officials say the idea of longer terms emerged from the town’s Comprehensive Plan meetings two years ago. They say longer terms would create more stability, give commissioners more time to learn the issues, and boost the experience and effectiveness of the elected body. They say it also would reduce commissioners’ campaign costs, reduce town staff time devoted to orientation, and give board members more time to lead and complete long-range projects.
Some Davidson residents have raised concerns about the idea. Some worry that four-year terms would reduce commissioners’ accountability. Others think citizens should have a chance to vote on the change.
CHANGE COULD START THIS FALL
Currently all five commissioners and the mayor are elected every two years. A charter change this June would not extend the terms for the current board, since all their seats are up for election again this fall.
But it would affect the length of future commissioners’ terms: The mayor and commissioner candidates who get the most votes on Nov. 1 would get 4 year terms. Candidates who finished third through fifth would get two-year terms, and their seats would be up for grabs again in two years. After that, those seats would be four-year terms.
A referendum on a charter change like this not required under state law, though it is allowed. Commissioners themselves cold decide to schedule a referendum through a Town Board vote. Or a referendum could be required if 10 percent of registered voters in town sign a petition seeking a vote. Davidson had 8,046 registered voters as of the last election, and the county board of elections currently lists 7,407, so a petition likely would need 750 to 800 signatures.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We’re asking readers for their thoughts on two questions:
- What do you think of longer terms for town commissioners and mayor?
- Should the board enact the change, or should it be put to a referendum?
We’ll be promoting this survey through the site, via our daily email, and on Facebook and Twitter. Unlike some other online polls, you won’t be able to see immediate results (that makes a poll too easy to manipulate). The survey is anonymous, and users will be limited to voting just once. Comments also are invited as part of the survey.
This won’t be a scientific poll, but we hope it will help inform the debate and generate interest in the May 10 public hearing.
April 12, 2011, “Board starts process to lengthen and stagger terms.” – Coverage of the April 12 Town Board meeting, with more background on the issue.
Current voter statistics in Davidson, on the Mecklenburg Board of Elections website, meckboe.org.