Last year about this time, Davidson began discussions on extending and staggering the terms for the Board and Mayor. This Tuesday, with two new Board members in the mix, that discussion will take the stage once again.
The first discussion item on the Tuesday planning session agenda mentions a "charter amendment". Town Manager Leamon Brice was able to confirm that this refers to the same 4-year charter amendment topic broached a year ago. A schedule for both a Board executed change as well as one approved by a ballot referendum will be presented.
For those who are not familiar with what was previously proposed, the idea put forth last year was to extend terms for elected officials from 2 years to 4 years, and stagger the elections so that only 3 officials were on the ballot every 2 years, 3 Board members one cycle and the Mayor plus 2 Board members the next. The stated goal of this was to reduce turnover. This would also bring Davidson in line with many other towns around the state. However, Davidson would be the only town in Mecklenburg county with this setup.
Last year's proposal caused a bit of controversy due as much to the proposed manner of executing the change as due to the change itself. Initially, the Board moved forward unanimously under a plan to unilaterally make this change rather than puting it to the voters in a referendum as the law allows. Charter amendments are one of the few areas where the State allows localities to choose approval by referendum.
After some pushback from members of the community, the Board decided to change directions and move forward under a referendum. (See the poll results in the below article.) That plan was suddenly dropped the night the Board was intended to vote on a resolution putting the charter amendment up for a referendum.
It will be interesting to see what happens this time.
Here are some stories on the subject from DavidsonNews.net.
Board starts process to lengthen and stagger terms - 12 April 2011
Hearing Tues. seeks comment on longer board terms - 8 May 2011 (Poll results)
Town Board opts for referendum on term lengths - 11 May 2011
At June 24 forum, chamber looks at 4-year terms - 8 June 2011
Commissioners table proposal to lengthen board terms - 15 June 2011
Chamber cancels forum after board puts off 4-yr terms - 16 June 2011