Council to Hold Vote on Life Tenure for City Clerk, Term Limits for Mayor

When the City Council convenes on Monday, March 25, it could potentially hold a vote on two separate proposals to amend the City Charter’s language regarding the future of two City offices. The first would reinstate life tenure for the City Clerk, while the second would impose term limits on the Mayor.

The issues were considered jointly at the last Council meeting on March 11, where it was decided that more legal input was needed from the City Solicitor and a vote was postponed for two weeks. If Councilors are satisfied with what they learn from the Solicitor on Monday, they could hold a vote at that time, or they could decide to postpone the vote for another two weeks.

Council President Rich Dell Isola Jr., and Councilors Rosa DiFlorio, Anthony DiPierro, John Hanlon and Steve Simonelli are requesting approval from the state legislature to amend the City Charter regarding tenure for the position of City Clerk, currently occupied by former councilman and former assistant city clerk, Sergio Cornelio.

Their intention is to make the position a lifetime position, following Revere’s lead.

The position of City Clerk had long been a lifetime position until it was changed in 2018 to a term of five years with an option for renewal. This means that every five years, the Council can decide to renew the Clerk’s employment or not, making the position vulnerable to political entanglement, advocates said. By reinstating life tenure, co-sponsor DiPierro said that the Clerk’s position can theoretically remain apolitical. Every five years the Council would still have the option to dismiss the City Clerk but only with due cause.

One of the councilors currently backing the idea for life tenure for the City Clerk position is Ward 6 Councilor Michael McLaughlin, and it’s largely due to the performance of the current City Clerk.

“Sergio in the past year has done [a lot] to professionalize the office and bring [it] into the 21st Century,” he said. “He’s a go-getter. He has really proven himself as a hard worker and somebody that’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.”

Cornelio, at 33, has worked for the City his entire adult life and so far doesn’t have any plans to leave.

“I like my job. It’s very rewarding and fun,” he said. “I get to work with different people. I intend to be here for a long while.”

Cornelio also emphasized that life tenure would also allow him the time to more fully internalize the complexities of his role, to obtain the necessary certifications and to embody the “institutional knowledge” required of the Clerk title.

It is still unclear how, if at all, the change in Charter language would affect the position of the Assistant City Clerk, now occupied by Dave Ragucci. Currently the position is subject to the same five-year renewal process as the City Clerk’s position.

But while some councilors aim to extend the Clerk’s tenure, another is moving to limit the mayoral term.

At the March 11 meeting, Councilor Michael Marchese piggybacked on the Clerk’s tenure proposal to reintroduce his own measure to limit the mayor’s term of service. He had originally proposed this measure back in January, but it had been killed in committee when Marchese failed to show up.

Marchese revived it at last week’s Council meeting.

Currently the mayoral position is not subject to term limits, though it is subject to elections every four years. Marchese wants to impose term limits while also shortening the term length from four years to two.

“The mayor would serve for a maximum of eight years, or four, two-year terms,” he said at the last Council meeting.

These changes could not be applied retroactively, meaning the current mayor, Carlo DeMaria, would only become subject to these changes if he were to be re-elected at the end of his current term.

Marchese told Independent that his impetus for introducing this measure was his dissatisfaction with DeMaria, evoking the recent controversy surrounding the City’s Health and Wellness Center, which he called “a place of dysfunction.”

Marchese also cited precedent.

“Other cities [don’t allow mayors to serve indefinitely],” he said. “Malden doesn’t. Revere doesn’t. Why Everett?” Marchese praised the professionalism with which the City Clerk and the City Solicitor crafted the proposal to revisit the City Charter regarding City Clerk tenure, and expressed the hope that his proposal be handled with as much care.

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