Charter Revision Commission discusses elections, board terms of office

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Members Present: Chairman Edward Ohannessian; Vice-Chairman Anthony McGovern; Commissioners Lynn Guelzow, Rebecca Brewer, Mark Lockwood, Benjamin Perron, Terri-Ann Hahn, Anthony Cappelli (via Zoom) and Francis Brady. Others present: Town Manager Erica P. Robertson (via Zoom) and Town Clerk Scott A. Nolan.

Chairman Edward Ohannessian informed members that they had received a packet of feedback from members of the public, along with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), and the Town Attorney (Halloran and Sage LLP).

Ohannessian inquired how the commissioners wanted to move forward with making suggestions/ edits to the document. Commissioner Mark Lockwood offered his services to be the one to keep track of the redline and blackline edits so they could be presented to the Board of Selectmen in an easy-to-read manner.

Committee members began a discussion on the language in Chapter 1, Incorporation and General Powers, especially some specific language, grammar, and political subdivisions.

The committee also discussed the language in Chapter 2, Elections. Specifically, the number of Board of Education candidates any one political party can have, along with the nomination process for political parties, minority representation, registered voters, electors, breaking a tie, and vacancies. Members spoke at length about the process of filling a vacancy on the Board of Selectmen and what would happen when an Unaffiliated seat of a Board/ Commission became vacant. They also considered whether or not the Town Charter should mandate that Public Input be a part of each boards and commission’s agenda at which time further discussion took place.

Committee members discussed language in Chapter 3, Elective Officers. Discussion took place about suggesting that section 3-1 language be adopted to allow boards and commissions the option to adopt their own by-laws. After a brief discussion members felt that they would like to consider it further at a later date. Further discussion took place regarding term limits.

Members discussed section 3-4, Board of Selectmen, regarding whether terms should be staggered. Members also spoke to the election of the First Selectman and if the present system following Connecticut General Statute § 9-188 was a good idea. It was also suggested that if members of the Charter Commission were in agreement on this issue that the statute where the language originated should be referenced for clarity. Further discussion centered on whether the method of electing a First Selectman should be in line with the current language in Connecticut General Statute § 9-188 or if the Town wanted to adopt a home rule where if you lost as a candidate for First Selectman your votes would not be counted towards a seat on the Board of Selectmen.

Members discussed section 3-5, Board of Education, regarding the number of board members that currently comprise the Board of Education and if that number should be increased. Town Manager Robertson noted that the Board of Finance is working on offering feedback to the Charter Revision Commission regarding areas relevant to them. Charter Revision Commission members also discussed merging sections 3-8 Zoning Board of Appeals and 3-9 Zoning Board of Appeals Alternates.

Discussion took place regarding the Town Moderator position (Section 3-11) and what role it currently serves in town government. It was noted that the moderator is still in charge of running the Town meetings.

Members discussed section 3-12, Position of Profit, the concept of conflict of interest and whether or not we should include a conflict-of-interest section, or if this section should be replaced with a conflict-of-interest section. Members felt that the section of position of profit might be too broad.