Taunton Considers Term Limits, Recall Provision [OPINION]
A nine-member Charter Advisory Committee in Taunton has recommended some lofty political changes for the Silver City. The recommendations include term limits for elected officials and a recall provision. Both ideas have captivated voters all across the nation in recent years.
Advisory Committee member and Taunton City Councilor David Pottier tells me the last major amendment to Taunton's charter occurred in 1909. The charter itself dates back to 1864. Pottier says updating the charter is long overdue and would give Tauntonians a more active role in their local government.
The proposed changes include term limits for the mayor, the city council, and the school committee. Under the plan, a mayor would be limited to three four-year terms. Council and school committee members would serve no more than four three-year terms. The changes could take effect as early as the 2023 elections.
Other proposals include:
– Staggered elections so that all city council and school committee members do not face re-election at the same time.
– A citizen petition initiative that would allow citizens to place questions on the local ballot.
– The establishment of a financial audit committee.
– A capital improvement program to provide a dedicated stream of funding for upgrades and improvements to municipal property.
– A permanent charter review committee.
The proposed changes would also give the mayor veto authority and the council the ability to override a veto by a two-thirds majority.
The charter changes are supported and encouraged by Taunton Mayor Shaunna O'Connell, who tells me they would "result in a more accountable and effective structure of governance" for the community.
The proposed charter changes must be approved by the city council and the Massachusetts legislature before being put before the voters for their consideration.
The changes being proposed in Taunton are solid. They would give voters a more active role in their government. Term limits and a recall provision would limit the power amassed by career politicians and ensure that the people's business is the priority of all elected public servants.
The City of New Bedford could benefit from term limits, a recall provision, and many of the other changes proposed in Taunton. Perhaps it's time for a local charter advisory committee to form.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.