WarrenAugust 21, 2012
Mayor wants to push back start date for elected officials
By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer
WARREN — Jim Fouts said he had little time to transition into his new job as mayor when he got the keys to City Hall in November 2007.
He was elected on Nov. 6 and sworn in four days later.
“I had keys in my drawer, but I didn’t know what they went to,” Fouts said last week.
Still, he said, there was pressing work to be done. Business had to be taken before the City Council the next week. A water budget loomed in December. Appointments had to be made, pretty much on the spot.
“We came in and we were not prepared, and there was nobody here to explain how to do things,” Fouts said. “When you’re running for office, you’re not thinking about making appointments. You’re not sure you’re going to get elected. All you’re concerned about is getting elected.”
Fouts recently proposed a way to change that for future elected officials in Warren. He asked the City Council to approve putting a charter-amending proposal on the ballot this November that would, if approved by voters, allow the term of office of elected officials to be pushed back from November to the first day of business in January.
The council voted to table the matter for further discussion on Aug. 14.
Council member Pat Green was among those who expressed concerns with the proposal.
“I’m not in favor of this. You run for an elected office, you start the day that the charter says,” Green said. “That’s the way it’s been done since 1957, and everyone survived. We have to learn how to read a budget. We should be doing that beforehand. I don’t think this warrants a charter amendment.”
Rather, Green said, changes could be enacted by city ordinance to ensure a smoother transition.
He also suggested possibly creating a “manual” for newbie administrators.
Council member Keith Sadowski said he favored a request to table the matter, put forth by Council Secretary Scott Stevens, to allow for further discussion.
Stevens said he supported the idea, and he had spoken to the mayor about it on more than one occasion, going back to the 2007 election. However, he said he wanted to consider several changes to the charter, including various “housekeeping” items, that could be made at the same time.
Council member Kelly Colegio said she, too, wanted an opportunity to discuss the proposal before agreeing to put it on the ballot.
She said she had concerns about city officials, voted out of office in early November, retaining power until the end of the year unchecked.
The matter was tabled unanimously for council discussion during a committee of the whole session at a future date.
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