Perryville considers changes to term limits
— The town board is currently exploring changing the terms of the mayor and commissioners from two years to three years to allow commissioners to run for mayor without losing their seat.
Under the current charter, the mayor and commissioners serve two-year terms and are elected in staggered fashion with two commissioners on the ballot one year and the mayor and the
other two commissioners up for election the following year.
Commissioner Robert Ashby, the newest member of the board who was just elected this past May, said changes need to be made so any sitting commissioner could run for mayor without worrying about losing his or her seat. For example, Ashby said that since he was elected in the cycle with the mayor, he would have to think hard about running for the seat now held by Jim Eberhardt.
“If you’re that involved and you want to be mayor ... basically I want my cake and to eat it too,” Ashby said.
He doesn’t want to risk losing his commissioner seat to seek the mayor’s office. Commissioners Michelle Linkey and Alan Fox run in the other cycle and would not face the same dilemma, he noted.
Ashby suggested moving the election from the second Tuesday in May to November so it could be held along- side the state or federal elections.
But Denise Breder, town administrator, said that would never be allowed. Instead, voters would have to travel from Perryville Elementary School to Perryville Town Hall to participate in both elections.
Rising Sun’s commissioners voted in February 2013 to move its town election from the second Monday in June to the third Monday in October. The two-year terms were also expanded to four.
Linkey brought up the idea of expanding the terms of office to four years. Breder said that in her conversations with Eberhardt, she knows he would not favor the longer term for several reasons. Breder said Eberhardt — who was absent from the Tuesday night work session — points to the trouble Port Deposit has in filling its ballot because of the length of the term.
“It could be easier if we went to four-year terms,” Linkey countered.
It was then suggested Perryville consider three-year terms. Then the two commissioners would run in one election cycle and the other two the following year with the mayoral contest alone in the third year of the cycle. It would give any commissioner the chance to pursue the higher office.
Any changes to the terms would have to be in the form of a charter amendment and a draft of such an amendment is scheduled to be presented at the Nov. 15 work session.