At Tuesday evening's Town Board work session, Davidson officials re-kindled discussion started last year on altering the Town's charter.
The change under discussion would result in 4-year staggered terms for both the Mayor and Commissioners. Interestingly, Mayor Woods threw out the option of 4-year staggered terms for the Commissioners while keeping the Mayor at 2-years. This is the same setup Mooresville uses, and it will be interesting to see if it gets any traction. He seemed particularly clear in his opinion that Commissioners should be at 4-years regardless of what happens with the Mayor's position though he did express a preference for 4-year terms for the Mayor as well.
The most important decision made tonight was the apparent consensus that if this change goes forward it will only be after a referendum - a referendum voluntarily placed on the November ballot without requiring a citizen petition to force that to happen. This is very good news and will lessen the controversy around what will be a vigorously debated decision.
As going in positions, three Commissioners and the Mayor expressed favoring 4-year terms. They were Commissioners Venzon, Wessner, and Jenest. Mayor Woods also favored longer terms.
Interestingly, the two new Commissioners were less inclined to favor 4-year terms. Commissioner Fuller questioned whether longer terms would discourage candidates from running for office if the initial commitment was 4 years. Commissioner Graham actually opposed the proposed extension to 4 years saying commissioners who want longer terms should just do a good job and get reelected.
Personally, I think this will be good for the Town - not the proposed change to the Charter, but the debate.
I think the proposed change to the Charter is a fundamentally bad idea for a number of reasons I'll explain in future posts.
However, the debate will be good. It will elevate interest in Town politics between the regular election cycles which can't help but be a good thing. Davidson's citizens are involved and educated on the issues, and I'm sure they will be on this one.