Davidson nixes 4-year term proposal
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Commissioners are tired of dealing with a proposal that would lengthen the terms for the mayor and town board to four years.
Some of them are so sick of the proposal, in fact, that they don’t want to hear about it anytime soon.
“I’d like to see us not talk about it for a long time,” commissioner Brian Jenest said. “We have more serious things to deal with … at least while I’m here.”
Commissioners approved a resolution July 17 to put a referendum on the ballot in November, allowing voters the chance to say if town officials should serve four-year, staggered terms.
But Jenest, Rodney Graham and Laurie Venzon voted 3-1 to kill the proposal at a July 31 special meeting. Commissioner Connie Wessner was absent and commissioner Jim Fuller voted in favor of the proposal.
After voting for the referendum just a few weeks back, Venzon said she had some time to think the matter over.
She spoke with a Davidson resident who said if commissioners were going to switch to four-year terms instead of the current two-year system, they’d need a compelling reason to do so.
“That word (compelling) turned on a light bulb in my head,” Venzon said. “Four years is a lot of time … You never know when you sign up for this job if you’re going to like it or if people are going to like what you’re doing.”
Graham, who was the only commissioner to vote against the referendum July 17 has been fighting the proposal since it was introduced in 2010. He had simple reasoning for voting against it again.
“Commissioners tend to serve for a long time,” Graham said. “Do a good job and you’ll get reelected. As Laurie said, there would have to be compelling evidence to change it, and I haven’t seen it. It’s not just making good decisions, it’s also about not making bad ones.”
Fuller favored of the referendum because he thought putting it to a vote it gave residents more of a voice on the subject.
“I’ve talked to people on both sides,” Fuller said. “I want to hear those who are opposed and those who support. I think submitting it to a referendum would let the people speak and would answer the question for the foreseeable future.”
Davidson Town Manager Leamon Brice first introduced the proposal in November 2010. Brice explained then that new commissioners spend about a third of their first term learning the ins and outs of town planning.
Without staggered terms, voters could completely replace the board in one election, and the new members would all be unfamiliar with town processes.
Because of Tuesday’s vote, the board cancelled an Aug. 14 public hearing on the matter.