Charter Commission aiming for major changes – Bi-cameral government history if residents agree

Everett city government as we know it may become a thing of the past if the Charter Commission and then a vote of the people approves the changes being discussed.

At stake is the shape and form the Everett city government will take if changes to the 118 year-old city charter are finally made.

At a public meeting held last Wednesday night, several residents spoke in favor for some of the changes but vehemently opposed others.

One of the proposed changes is replacing the present form of the Board of Aldermen and Common Council that has 25 elected officials with a single Board comprised of 11 members. Six would be elected by individual ward vote and five would be elected with an at-large vote. The School Committee would remain unchanged from its present form.

Superintendent Fred Foresteire proposed that the new Board would function better if there were nine members instead of the proposed 11 members. He stated that the purpose of the Charter Commission is to streamline city government and that a smaller board would be better.

Foresteire also suggested that all members of the new Board should be elected by the voters citywide rather than the members from the Ward being elected only by the vote of that particular ward. He pointed out that if a person is elected citywide than he would need 3,000 votes as opposed to a ward vote in which the winning candidate could be elected with a few hundred votes.

Another proposal that speakers disagreed with the charter commissioners on, was to eliminate the primary election and keep just one single election date.

“Primaries are important,” Mayor Carlo DeMaria said. Citing his own personal experience, he said that when he first ran for Common Council in the primary he finished in sixth spot but in the final election he was able to serve on the Council because he worked hard and placed in the top three spots. He said that if the new process of a single election were to be approved then he would have not been elected mayor.

Another hot button issue was the proposal to increase the term of Mayor from two to four years. “I favor the four year term,” said Alderman Sal Sachetta. While resident Michael Lozzi, “I am not against the four year but the people should decide.” He also noted that the proposal to increase the Mayor’ term to four years was defeated in 2002.

“Don’t put in a deal breaker with a four year term,” said Councilor Peter Napolitano noting that the Commissioners had made tremendous progress.

“These are exciting times for the Charter Commission and for the city,” said former mayor, and former city clerk John Hanlon, a member of the Charter Commission.

Since coming together officially in July, this Charter Commission has been moving forward on becoming a unicameral city government and perhaps even changing the term for mayor,” Hanlon added.

He said the commission has been examining the benefits of the unicameral government as compared with the present bi-cameral government – which most members believe is too cumbersome a system to operate a modern city at this point.

Voters will place the proposed new charter on the ballot for approval or rejection in November 2011.

If the charter changes are approved, they would then be incorporated officially in November 2013.

The next meeting public meeting is planned for October 27 at 6:30. All residents are invited to attend and talk about the changes or they can email their views to [email protected]

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