Council to Consider Four-Year Terms

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A motion to explore extending the term lengths for city councilors caused great debate among members this week.

Councilors serve two-year terms, but if a proposed change is approved, that term length could be extended to four years. The council voted Tuesday to draft a resolution for the change. A public hearing on the topic will take place if the resolution is approved.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and councilors Thomas Crowder and Russ Stephenson voted against the change.

McFarlane said it often feels like there is very little time between starting your job and starting to campaign, but she said the short terms make the council focus on their jobs.

“If you look around at a lot of the elective bodies, we’re one of the better functioning ones,” she said.

Councilor Bonner Gaylord echoed McFarlane’s statements. He said the system works well even though he doesn’t think campaigning is a productive use of time in office.

But he admitted the councilors play a large role in how he feels about extending the term length.

“I would love if this council ran for four years,” he said. “But there are others that I would be happy to see run every one year.”

Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said she would like to continue talking about the prospect and let it go to public hearing to see what residents think.

The council must approve the resolution before a public hearing can be scheduled. It has not been decided if the terms would begin with the next election or be added to the councilors’ existing terms.

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