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Medina finance director opposes proposed term limits

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    Medina Finance Director Keith Dirham, speaking Thursday before the Medina Breakfast Kiwanis Club at Medina Hospital, said he doesn’t favor term limits for city officials.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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22962900

Medina Finance Director Keith Dirham, speaking Thursday before the Medina Breakfast Kiwanis Club at Medina Hospital, said he doesn’t favor term limits for city officials.

BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE Enlarge

MEDINA — Responding to a proposal for term limits, city Finance Director Keith Dirham pointed out eight of the nine races for city positions in the 2015 and 2017 general elections were unopposed.

“Where are we going to find candidates for these jobs?” Dirham asked Thursday at the Medina Breakfast Kiwanis Club meeting at Medina Hospital.

“They don’t make sense to me,” Dirham said of term limits.

At a recent Special Legislation Committee meeting, At-large Councilman Bill Lamb proposed limiting City Council members to three four-year terms and the mayor to two four-year terms.

Lamb also proposed changing the finance director from an elected position to a mayoral appointment, with council’s approval.

Dirham, finance director since 2001, said he doesn’t buy into term limits in the state Legislature, either.

“They don’t hit the ground running,” he said. “By the time they figure out what’s going on, they are looking for another job.”

State representatives are limited to four, consecutive two-year terms and state senators to two, consecutive four-year terms.

The only benefit of term limits, Dirham said, is preventing career politicians.

Council members “certainly aren’t doing it for the money,” he said. “If they are doing it for the money, they aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.”

Over the years, there has been discussion of switching Medina’s mayoral form of government to city manager, as in Brunswick.

With a city manager form of government, he said, “You see very little debate on running things. It’s good to question each other.”

If the mayor or council proposes something that doesn’t make sense to Dirham, he has the freedom to question it.

“They don’t hire or fire me,” he said. “It’s important to have discussions.”

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

In proposing term limits, Lamb said they would allow more people a chance to serve and promote diversity. He said Laura Parnell-Cavey, who won her Ward 1 seat on council in November, is one of only 10 female councilwomen in the last 70 years.

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

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



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