The first of four public hearings on proposals to extend the terms of Cincinnati City Council members will be held March 21.
City Council has drafted two proposals for consideration. Under one proposal, all nine council members would run at the same time, while in the other, terms would be staggered so some members would run every two years.
Currently all nine members are elected at the same time to two-year terms. Some members and residents say that interferes with their ability to govern, as members are almost constantly busy raising money and running for office.
If all nine members were elected every four years, it would save about $250,000 in election costs.
“Council will be more productive and collaborative with four-year terms,” says Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, who lobbied for the change. “Leaders in every major city in Ohio and most every city we compete with have four-year terms to enable strategic planning and long-term vision.”
Quinlivan was joined by fellow Democrats Roxanne Qualls, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young, along with Charterite Yvette Simpson, in voting late last month to hold hearings on the issue.
Each of the two proposed charter amendments keeps the current eight-year term limit.
Also, unlike in some earlier proposals, the clock wouldn’t be reset for members, so their current terms would apply toward the limit.
The first public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in council chambers, located on the third floor of City Hall, 801 Plum St., downtown.
After four hearings are held, City Council will decide by August which of the two proposals should be placed on the November ballot. Any change must happen in the form of a charter amendment, which needs voter approval.
If approved, any change would take effect with the 2013 election. (Kevin Osborne)