Canfield voters debate 3 amendments to city charter on ballot

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CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Next Tuesday in Canfield, voters will decide on three amendments to the city charter that grew out of contract negotiations with a city union. Tuesday night there was a debate on whether the amendments are needed.

Mark Brooks of Nashville represents the Utility Workers Union of America, which has spent almost three years negotiating a contract for six Canfield city employees.

“[We] do deserve fair treatment from the city administration including a fair contract,” Brooks said.

After Canfield City Council rejected a fact finders report in April, the union announced it would place three charter amendments on the ballot.

Was it retribution for the lack of a contract? Brooks says that’s “totally not true.”

Wade Calhoun said he believes otherwise. Calhoun is the city manager in Canfield. One of the proposed amendments would allow the city manager to be recalled by a ballot issue.

Currently, the city council makes that decision. Calhoun says if the amendment passes, the city manager could make decisions to save his job.

“They can kind of threaten, well, if you don’t do this, we will petition for a recall of the city manager,” Calhoun said.

“The government’s been set up so that the city manager is insulated from the voters, and if the city council does not provide effective oversight, then the manager’s accountable to no one,” Brooks said.

Christine Oliver is a former Canfield city councilwoman who opposes all three amendments.

“I have discovered that in the state of Ohio there are over 20 cities that have charters,” Oliver said. “Why aren’t they going into any of those cities trying to change their charters?”

Frank Micchia is a regular at Canfield city council meetings who supports the amendments.

Another charter amendment would allow city council members to serve two 2-year terms, instead of the current four 4-year terms.

“It gives the citizens a chance to appraise the work city council has done, and it gives an opportunity for more people to toss their hat in the ring every two years and serve the community,” Micchia said.

“When I served on the council it was a two year limit. And in that two years you can not accomplish anything,” Oliver said.

The third charter amendment facing Canfield voters would prevent the use of city resources to support or oppose any candidate or issue on a ballot. Anyone found to be in violation would be ineligible for employment with Canfield for five years.

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