Canton residents to vote on staggered terms in Fall

By DeeAnna Haney | Apr 15, 2013

It will be up to voters this year whether to keep the structure of Canton Board of Aldermen the same or switch to four-year, staggered terms.

It’s an idea alderman have discussed for several years, but never took any action, said Town Manager Al Matthews. But as the only board in the county operating on two-year terms, the current board began looking at the issue again last year.

The current two-year term structure poses the risk that all of the experienced board members could be voted out and an entirely new set elected.

"It's to provide continuity so that existing aldermen can educate new ones that come on so that you don’t have four or five freshman town board members because there is a learning curve to local government that does not apply to private business," Matthews said.

In March of last year, board members decided that the idea of staggered terms should be presented to Canton voters in the form of a ballot. The aldermen hoped the issue could appear in last November’s election, but it turned out to be too short notice and costly to make that happen, Matthews said.

"It’s a substantial cost savings to the taxpayers by scheduling it this way," he said.

All four alderman seats will be up for grabs Nov. 5, but candidates will not be able to file for office until July 5.

The question will appear on the regular ballot in 'yes' or 'no' form.

If citizens vote in favor of staggered terms, the top two vote-getters on that same ballot for alderman and mayor would serve four years. The two aldermen with the lowest amount of votes would serve two years and then would have to seek re-election in 2015.