HUDSON — A local law was introduced Tuesday at the Common Council’s informal meeting to amend the City Charter concerning the term of the office of the mayor.
It would be extended from two years to four. The amendment would be on the ballot in the general election Nov. 3 election and take effect Jan. 1, 2022.
“We need to have some continuation in leadership whether that’s me or someone else,” Mayor Kamal Johnson said. “I think the alderman position is a lot more complex. There were conversations on staggering it or different resolutions or solutions for that, so it’s up to you guys whether you want to vote for this or not, but I think it’s best that I chose to separate it.”
“I disagree,” 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga said. “I think it’s fair to have the council members included in the resolution, along with council president. It should be the same amount of term limits for all of us.”
Council members reminded Garriga that an amendment of that nature had been proposed in December 2019 by former Mayor Rick Rector that was amended to included term limits of the council members as well, but it was defeated by the council 6-5.
“It will have to go to referendum in November,” Common Council President Thomas DePietro said. “So it’s got a long haul before whatever happens. I first think it’s a good idea, and I don’t think it’s a good idea that the councilmen be extended or the council president for a number of reasons.”
DePietro said he thinks the turnover of the council is less important.
“More importantly, it forces council members to get out every two years,” DePietro said.
Johnson said this does not exclude the council from introducing their own amendment to extend their terms.
“I recall I voted no when it was the big package because I had hoped we would stagger when the council members, whether it was a lottery that picks No. 1 gets it first, ward two or something so that we have continuity,” said 5th Ward Alderwoman Eileen Halloran.
“I spoke in the past against the blanket proposal. I think increasing the length of the term, having staggered terms, makes the process less responsive and therefore less democratic, so I oppose increasing the length of anyone’s term and I opposed staggered terms,” Ronald Kopniki of Hudson said.
Matt McGhee of Hudson said the same portrait of George Washington that hangs behind the council also hangs in the House of Representatives, and as the body with the most power it also has to have the most accountability, which comes from frequent elections.
“To me it’s reckless to increase terms, especially for the representative body because their accountability needs to be greater,” McGhee said.
“This has been something that has been talked about for years,” Johnson said. “We all understand the importance of increasing terms and why we need to. I also understand the House of Representatives and all those other things, but all of those people have a full team behind them that works.
“So when we’re looking for affordable housing and any other big issues in the city, a lot of developers and people that want to partner with the city, they want to make sure that the person that they’re partnering with is going to be there a long time, long-term, to see it through. With two years, after one year, you’re back running and campaigning, so it’s difficult on us as elected officials.”
“That’s how we feel about our two-year term,” Garriga said.
“I just want to say everyone who’s now incumbent has the opportunity to run again, and if you want continuity, you can get reelected,” Kopniki.
Seven out of 10 council members returned after their last two-year term, with Johnson running for mayor and Rob Bujan running for Common Council president, as well.
The council will convene for its formal meeting on Feb. 18 at City Hall, 520 Warren St.