Count us among those who think it makes sense for Havre de Grace to change its mayoral terms from two years to three.
The logic behind a resolution proposed earlier this month is that currently, half of the city's six-member council can run for mayor without giving up a council seat, the others can not. All elected officials in Havre de Grace serve three-year terms.
In odd years, the mayor and three council seats on the left side of the dais are up for election and in even years, it is the three council member seats on the right side.
Because a candidate can only run for one office, anyone on the left side who wants to run for mayor must give up their council seat since they are elected during the same cycle.
Candidates from the right side of the dais, whose term would be opposite the mayor, would retain their seat if they lost the mayoral race.
Switching the mayor’s term to three years starting in 2021 would give everyone an equal opportunity to run.
Beyond that, supporters of this change note the mayor’s directors are contracted for three years. It also gives a first-term mayor an extra year to to put together their own budget, since in the first year, they would be working under the constraints of the previous administration’s budget when they first come into office. (Albeit a problem that would still exist for any first-year executive.)
The two-year terms for mayor also date back to when Havre de Grace was run by a city manager; whereas today the mayor and their staff handles those duties, acting as the chief executive for the municipality.
Residents will get their first opportunity to weigh in on the matter when a public hearing is held Nov. 4.
Should the City Council decide to move forward on a resolution to change the city charter, residents would still have to ratify the change through a referendum in the spring.
A few former councilmembers attended the meeting where the change was proposed and expressed that they didn't think it was a good idea.
One suggested the mayor and all six council members each run on three-year staggered terms — three council members the first year, the other three seats the following year, and the mayor in the third. That could work too, although some oppose the principle of a three-year term by any local politician as too long.
Ultimately, the city will need buy-in from its voters to make any change to the charter. The rationale behind the proposed change, however, seems sound.