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Councilman talks term limits for Medina officials

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    Bill Lamb

    MG

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Bill Lamb

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MEDINA — At-large Councilman Bill Lamb is proposing term limits for City Council members and the mayor’s office.

Lamb, who discussed term limits during this week’s Special Legislation Committee, which he chairs, proposes limiting council terms to three, four-year terms (12 years) and mayoral terms to two (eight years).

He also proposed that the finance director, an elected position, instead be appointed by the mayor, with council’s approval.

Lamb, who’s serving his second at-large term, said since Medina is in its 200th year as a community, this would be a perfect time to evaluate the system. He also brought up term limits last year.

Any proposed changes must go before voters as amendments to the city charter.

Taking a look at term limits is a responsibility of good government, Lamb said.

“Term limits would clear the ballot and give other people a chance,” he said.

They’d also promote diversity, Lamb said.

He said Medina has been a city for almost 70 years and roughly 51 percent of the city’s population is female. But during that time, he said, there have only been 10 women on council, including Ward 1 Councilwoman Laura Parnell-Cavey.

“Something is wrong with that,” he said. “We don’t have that diversity. (Women) look at issues from a different angle and a different perspective.”

He also said term limits would allow for fresh perspectives from individuals interested in public service, and provide an opportunity to get younger people involved.

Lamb, a former Medina mayor, cited Medina County Commissioner Adam Friedrick as an example of giving others a chance to serve. When Friedrick was elected, he said he’d only serve two terms. His second term ends Dec. 31 and he’s not seeking re-election.

Members of the Special Legislation Committee include Ward 4 Councilman Jim Shields, who has served for 17 years, and At-large Councilman Paul Rose, who is in his third term. Mayor Dennis Hanwell was elected to a third term in November.

Council President John Coyne, the longest-tenured council member at 20 years, said he sees both sides of the issue.

“I understand the reason for term limits,” he said. “But everyone has the right as an American citizen to vote. They can vote people in and vote them out.”

Coyne acknowledged that name recognition and being an incumbent are factors that are difficult to overcome in an election, but said he’s “not a proponent of term limits.”

He said his reasoning may come from his grandfather, John Coyne Sr., who was the city of Brooklyn’s mayor for 53 years.

“Maybe that sways my opinion,” Coyne said. “If you’re doing a good job, I think you’d want to keep him.”

He said finding people who want to serve is not easy.

“It’s very difficult to find people who want to campaign and serve,” Coyne said.

He said he serves on council to help move the city forward.

Lamb said the committee discussion wasn’t aimed at anybody.

“It’s just a good time to look at how things are structured and try to improve on what we are doing,” he said. “This is a decades-long issue that has never been addressed.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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