Proposed Perryville election cycle changes squashed
— A proposal to change the way the mayor and commissioners get elected died at the town work session Tuesday night.
Commissioner Robert Ashby proposed to allow for commissioners to seek the mayor’s seat without having to surrender their incumbency. Elected for two-year terms, the mayor and two commissioners are on one ballot and the remaining two commissioners appear on the ballot the following year. Ashby said it is unfair for the two commissioners that share the mayoral ballot to risk losing their seat to seek the higher town office.
“The way it’s set up now, if I want to run for mayor, I have to lose my seat,” Ashby said. “The idea was to to have the mayor and commissioners on separate terms.”
The proposal was to enact threeyear terms with the mayor alone on one ballot and two commissioners
each on the other ballot years.
Commissioner Michelle Linkey said she favored both changes.
Mayor Jim Eberhardt — who was not a part of previous work session discussions — made it clear that he wanted the election cycle left alone.
“I am totally opposed to this,” he said. “This is the most self-serving document I’ve had in front of me.”
Eberhardt said he sees no benefit for the town in the proposal.
Linkey disagreed with the selfserving label.
“Commissioner Ashby brought up some good points,” she added. “Two commissioners would have to resign to run for mayor.”
“I do not have to forfeit,” she noted. “It’s not an equal opportunity.”
Commissioner Alan Fox said he thought about the proposal and while the current board is amiable, he said that has not always be the case.
“We’re assuming we’re all getting along pretty well,” he said.
Commissioner Ray Ryan III said he is used to the two-year cycle of town elections.
“Some people serve two years and want a break,” he said, adding he finds the three-year cycle interesting.
“As far as continuity, we’re not turning people over,” Ryan said, noting the length of terms for Eberhardt, Linkey and Fox and the term of former commissioner Barbara Brown. Linkey and Fox ran unopposed in the 2015 town election. Eberhardt has run unopposed almost every time since his first election in 2010.
Denise Breder, town administrator, spoke on behalf of the town employees saying the continuity of the elected board is a positive for the paid staff.
“It’s nice to have that stability,” she said.
Ashby hinted his future plans may remain.
“If in two years I want to run for mayor and if I haven’t done my job as a commissioner, the voters will speak,” he added.
Commissioner Michelle Linkey said she was in favor of changing the length of terms for the elected board and also making the mayoral race a separate election.