YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown voters Tuesday night overwhelmingly decided they want term limits for city council members, but questions remain on how this will affect certain incumbents.
The vote on Youngstown’s charter amendment limiting council members to two four-year terms was not even close. Over 10,000 people voted “yes” to term limits.
That’s 82% of those who voted — a landslide. But the language on the charter amendment states the term limits take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
But Mike Ray, who’s served 12 years on council and who plans to run again next year, says there’s no language in the amendment which states the term limits are retroactive to those currently serving on council.
This means he — along with fellow members Basia Adamczak, Julius Oliver and Anita Davis, who are approaching the the end of their second four year terms — can run again for another two four-year terms.
Amber and John White initiated the charter amendment. They campaigned on what they believed would mean incumbents now office — who have already served two four year terms — would not be allowed to run in next year’s election.
“I feel that to not give the voters what they voted on, under their understanding that it would immediately take effect, is just completely unethical. You’re going to upset a lot of people,” Amber White says.
“It’s my understanding that something like this is generally written in the prospective so it moves forward. It would have to explicitly state retroactive for dates. And that legislation simply does not do that,” Ray said.
Ray says there’s case law and information that supports his claim they can run again — though he wouldn’t say where his information came from.
“When you look at stuff and you’re in politics, from time-to-time, you need to consult with people who are knowledgeable or experts on that information,” Ray says.
When asked for clarification of the charter agreement, Youngstown Law Director Jeff Limbian was unsure at this point if the incumbent council members can run again.
Board of Elections member Dave Betras thinks it could end up in court.
The Whites say if certain council members insist they can run for two more four year terms, – then the Whites will request a vote on another charter amendment. This would deny anyone serving three or more terms to not be paid and their salaries be used for the good of their wards.
The Whites have not officially filed anything yet, but they say they will if incumbents on council decide they can continue to serve.