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Town Charter Under Review

Town Charter Under Review

Commission Will Consider Extending Selectmen Terms to Four Years

The Board of Selectmen has formed a commission to review the town’s charter. The commission was given a deadline of February 2017 to review 18 specific points in the charter and provide the board with a final report before going to a public referendum.

“There have been some suggestions as to potential items to look at for direction by the committee,” explained First Selectman James Zeoli. In addition to a handful of suggestions, Selectman Mitchell Goldblatt had 13 specific suggestions for consideration. The commission is made up of Selectman John Carangelo, Town Clerk Pat O’Sullivan, Pio Imperati, Jr., Laura Reid and Roy Cuzzocreo.

Among the possible changes the commission will consider changing the election of certain town officers from every two years to every four years. This change would pertain to the first selectman, five members of the board of selectmen, the town clerk, tax collector, registrar of voters, seven constables, and justices of the peace.

Another potentially notable change, the commission will also consider eliminating the provision of the charter that provides that the unsuccessful candidate for first selectman should be counted as votes cast for him or her as a member of the Board of Selectmen, so that the candidates for first selectmen run solely for that office and the unsuccessful candidate does not become a member of the Board of Selectmen. “Understanding that the current process is that the loser of the first selectman’s race falls down into the pool and the highest five vote getters, subject to minority representation, would then be the Board of Selectmen. The thought process is to make the first selectman race exclusively a head-to-head race and the loser does not automatically get a seat on the board,” Town Attorney Vincent Marino said.

Goldblatt was opposed to this change, “I was a little surprised to see this one in there. I am opposed to this. If somebody is dedicated enough and wants to take the risk and the challenge of running for first selectman, and they care that much for the town—if they’re not the successful candidate, that they’d be given the opportunity to continue to serve the town. I think the way it works now is fine.”

Selectman John Carangelo said it is a topic that should at least be discussed. “A lot of residents out there don’t like the fact that if you have a losing candidate, they’re still awarded a position. The populous votes us in. We’re elected officials, if you are fortunate enough to be elected by your constituents.”

The board intends to tie the public vote in with next year’s May budget referendum, but first, as part of the commission’s process, a public hearing will be held. “It will ultimately be up to the voters to determine how the charter will be amended,” Marino said.

By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent

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