FONDA - The length and number of terms a Montgomery County legislator would serve sparked considerable discussion at Wednesday's meeting of the county Charter Commission before members agreed on three-year terms.
The commission is using the Putnam County charter as a model as members draft a document for Montgomery County that would change the form of government from the current Board of Supervisors to a county legislature with districts divided according to population. In Putnam County, the terms of legislators are staggered, but local members decided against that provision.
"I think [Putnam County's provision for staggered terms] is way more complicated than it needs to be," commission member Robert Going said. "There's no reason to stagger elections."
Montgomery County Senior Planner Doug Greene, secretary of the Montgomery County Charter Commission, talks about proposed legislative districts at Wednesday’s commission meeting held at the Old County Courthouse in Fonda.
The Leader-Herald/John R. Becker
Commission member Orrie Eihacker said staggered terms would confuse the voters.
"It would be easier countywide if everybody voted at the same time."
Commission members voted in favor of three-year terms for legislators, saying two-year terms would be too short for someone to be effective.
"In my experience, in the first year, you're just getting your feet wet," commission member Peter Capobianco said.
Commission member James Post agreed.
"The terms should be three or four years and not staggered," he said.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger, chairman of the commission, said the charter should be as straightforward as possible, and staggered terms could be confusing.
"We're not only here to create a charter, but we want it to pass," he said. "The less complicated it is, the better."
Swanger said he favored term limits, but he was concerned the pool of candidates would be small.
The commission also looked at proposed legislative districts. Montgomery County Senior Planner Doug Greene, secretary of the commission, showed members three different maps of proposed legislative districts, based on either seven, eight or nine districts.
"Each of these maps has features you may or may not like," Greene said.
Commission members voted to hold the first of three public- information sessions at 6:30 p.m. May 30 in the Montgomery County Courthouse.
The Charter Commission will present its proposals to the county Board of Supervisors for approval. A public referendum would follow.
John R. Becker covers Montgomery County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.