YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In last Tuesday’s election, voters in Youngstown approved a new charter amendment limiting members of city council to two, four-year terms. Since then, questions have been raised about whether incumbent council members, who’ve already served two, four-year terms or more, can run again.

Mahoning County Board of Elections Chairman Dave Betras said Monday that they can.

Youngstown Councilman Mike Ray said on the day after the election that he and three of his colleagues, who eventually will have served two terms or more, can run again.

“It would have to explicitly state retroactive for dates. That legislation simply does not do that,” he said.

Betras said Ray is correct. Betras, who is also an attorney and former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic party, says the Ohio Constitution states that “The General Assembly shall have no power to pass retroactive laws.”

In addition, the Ohio Revised Code states “a statute is presumed to be prospective in its operation unless expressly made retrospective.”

“But this Charter Amendment that the people of Youngstown voted on did not have retroactive language in it. Therefore, it only acts prospectively, which means it doe snot apply until January 2023, and all those people who are on council can run two, four-year terms,” Betras said.

Youngstown’s John and Amber White initiated the Charter Amendment. Amber White said the day after the election that everyone thought the amendment would be effective immediately.

“To not give the voters what they voted on, under their understanding that it would immediately take effect, is just completely unethical,” she said.

The Whites have threatened another amendment denying pay to any council member having serviced more than eight consecutive years.

“I don’t think you can put a Charter Amendment on that says you can’t get paid if you’re in your third term when the term limits didn’t apply to you,” Betras said.

Betras also applauded the Whites for getting involved in the political process.

“I like people involved in the political process. It makes our country better. It makes the city better. Things go bad when people aren’t actively involved,” Betras said.

At the end of next year, Ray, Julius Oliver, Anita Davis and Basia Adamczak will have served two, four-year terms. Nothing can be done until one or more of them files petitions to run and those petitions are approved by the Board of Elections.