VENICE — The Charter Review Committee’s assignment was to give the entire document a once-over, but there were some specific provisions Council members wanted it to consider.
And it did, though in some cases it was consider and leave as is.
Here’s a summary of some charter provisions the committee decided should remain unchanged.
Section 3.04(a) — Vice Mayor Rich Cautero and Council Member Mitzie Fiedler both asked the committee to discuss whether Venice should stop separately electing a mayor and instead let the Council members do it (Cautero), or rotate it (Fiedler) on an annual basis.
Committee Member Kit McKeon, a former Council member, said he liked the idea of rotating the largely ceremonial position but former Mayor John Holic, also a committee member, was strongly against it.
Electing a mayor to a three-year term provides consistency that other local governments, which change their leadership annually, lack, he said.
An elected mayor is a “uniqueness that I think we should keep,” he said.
The consensus was, as Committee Chair Jeff Boone put it, that the current system isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed.
Fiedler also suggested that the committee weigh in on shrinking the Council from seven to five members — the number that serve on the County Commission and on the commissions of Sarasota, North Port and Longboat Key.
Committee Member Ernest Booker said downsizing would save time and money.
“I don’t believe in the concept that more is better,” he said.
But his colleagues all favored keeping the Council at seven members.
Committee Member Richard Clapp noted that the city is growing and said he was in favor of more voices, not fewer.
Holic said that having five members might mean a switch to four-year terms, with elections every two years instead of annually.
“I like the idea of elections every year,” Boone said.
Section 3.04(c) — Cautero, Council Member Helen Moore and Mayor Ron Feinsod all wanted the committee to discuss whether a person should be able to serve 18 consecutive years in any combination of terms as Council member and mayor, as long as it wasn’t more than three straight terms as either one.
Under this provision, former Council Member Bob Daniels was able to run for mayor in 2019 though he was precluded from seeking re-election to the Council seat he had held for nine years.
“Perhaps an appropriate ‘time out of office’ period should be considered,” rather than allowing a consecutive run for mayor, Cautero wrote in his memo to the committee.
Boone said that the language was added by the committee that reviewed the charter almost 10 years ago. The thinking, he said, was to leave it up to the public.
It would take an exceptional person to get elected six times, he said.
Both Holic and McKeon had said they supported requiring a break, but Boone’s explanation was persuasive, and no change was proposed.
With three Council members having questioned the provision and the committee not recommending a change, Boone said, “I have a feeling City Council may decide to make it.”