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Falls to vote on charter amendments

NEWTON FALLS — Village voters on May 8 will be asked to decide three charter amendments.

The questions include whether or not to remove term limits for the mayor and council members, and whether or not to approve a “more stringent requirement” to recall village officials between elections, according to city manager Jack Haney.

“Charter amendments are placed on the ballot in two ways,” Haney said, “by approval of city council, as in this (May 8 ballot) case, or by the Charter Commission, a group of citizens with members appointed by council every five years to review the charter.”

Currently, the mayor and council members are limited to two consecutive four-year terms by the charter. In the recall question, petitions signed by 15 percent of electors are all that is needed to put a recall issue on the ballot.

The aim of the charter amendment is to make recalls rarer, Haney said.

The more stringent measure proposed on the May 8 ballot, if passed, would raise the petition requirement to 51 percent or a majority of electors’ signatures. The number of electors is determined by the number of participating voters in the most recent municipal election.

Haney said the charter is currently under review by the commission, which was not involved in placing the May 8 questions on the ballot.

“In 2018, the coincidence is the (charter amendments) election and the review of the charter happening at the same time,” Haney said.

According to the Trumbull County Board of Elections, the process of recall elections is unique to municipalities with charters.

“Charter government allows for rules that make the potential for recall of officials possible,” said Stephanie Penrose, staff director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections.

Penrose said recalls are unique because they allow the voters to question the election results within an official’s term. This process is not as available at the state or local non-charter level.

Removing state and other non-charter elected officials is a more difficult process, which involves the courts, Penrose said. Earlier this year, Mecca Township fiscal officer Deborah Drawl was removed by a decision by a Trumbull County Common Pleas judge.

Penrose said there are only two Trumbull County charter municipalities — Newton Falls and Cortland — and she said Cortland has not had a charter measure proposed in recent years.

eearnhart@tribtoday.com

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