Charter Revision Commission to ponder term limits, balanced school board, and more
TRUMBULL — Only one member of the public offered suggestions for the Charter Revision Commission 2020 at its public hearing last week. But that person — First Selectman Vicki Tesoro — presented a list of suggested revisions and additions.
Committee Chairman Kate Donahue explained the committee’s purpose.
“Periodically, the town pulls out the charter and appoints a committee to make recommendations to the Town Council and ultimately to the voters,” she said.
The public session was intended as a chance for the public to comment or suggest changes before the committee begins its work in earnest. Donahue said the group, consisting of Vice Chairman Nancy Gardiner, Susan Gilson, Thomas Tesoro, J.C. Cinelli and Martin McGrath, would hold regular online meetings on Wednesdays through May before submitting its recommendations to the council.
Vicki Tesoro began her comments by thanking the members for volunteering, and acknowledged that the work they will do is vital to the town’s future, and will be conducted in “the most stressful conditions” in decades.
The commission’s work would shape the town, and “reflect who we are as a community,” she said. She added that her hope was that the revised charter would make the town “more balanced, more transparent and reflective of our highest aspirations.”
Tesoro gave a short list of recommendations touching on a number of issues, starting with changing the composition of the town’s Board of Education.
“Return to six members, with no party holding more than three seats,” she said. “This will eliminate politics and encourage compromise.”
She also advocated having school board members serve staggered four-year terms, with three members’ terms expiring every two years. This, she said, would simplify the town’s ballots, retain institutional memory and allow members to serve without constant campaigning.
For the Board of Finance, she advocated requiring the board alternates to consist of a Republican, a Democrat, and an unaffiliated member. Appointees should have held their current affiliation (or non-affiliation) for one calendar year before their appointment.
Tesoro also suggested that the Charter Revision Commission recommend returning the 21-member Town Council to seven districts from the current four, and suggested enacting term limits for all elected positions — two terms for positions with four- or six-year terms, and four terms for offices with two-year terms.
Other suggestions included:
With no other members of the public offering comments, Donahue adjourned the meeting shortly after Tesoro concluded her recommendations. Members of the public wishing to submit written suggestions should email them to the commission’s clerk Cindy Katske at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public will have another chance to comment live at the commission’s May 20 meeting, according to the meeting schedule.