By Anna DeWine
BEAVERCREEK — Beavercreek voters will soon decide how the city will elect its mayor.
City council voted unanimously in June to place a charter amendment issue on the Nov. 8 ballot. If approved, the city electorate will vote directly for its mayor in future years, leaving the decision no longer to chance.
Currently, the city charter has established a council-manager form of government, which is composed of an elected city council of six council members and a mayor. The city mayor selection is part of the council member election that happens every two years. The candidate that receives the highest number of votes is selected as mayor. The highest-vote-getter serves for two years as mayor and then serves for two years as a council member.
Under these rules, the city gets a new mayor every two years. Although, he or she could potentially be selected as mayor again after he or she served two years as council member.
Mayor Bob Stone believes direct election would add continuity to the position.
“Right now, two years is the longest term you can serve as mayor,” Stone said. “We’ve grown and there’s a certain advantage to having continuity, so other organizations, Wright State, Wright-Patt, are familiar with the mayor.”
City Councilman Brian Jarvis shared the same sentiment. “Currently, as quickly as our mayor begins working relationships with neighboring mayors, with state legislators, and other officials that could start benefiting our city, the mayor’s two years are up and the next mayor has to start all over again,” he said.
If the issue passes, voters will directly elect the city’s mayor beginning in the 2019 November general election. Mayoral candidates would specifically run for the position, and voters would directly elect one from that pool of candidates.
“The council thought it was time to give the public this opportunity. I think people are ready to have a direct voice in electing the mayor,” Stone said.
“Direct election for mayor will require the candidates for mayor engage directly with the voters for that role,” Jarvis agreed. “This puts that decision directly in the hands of the voters — to ask the hard questions and choose who will represent them, demonstrate leadership, actively support the city, be accountable, and be the face of the city. Direct-election for mayor makes the will of the citizens clear.”
Upon amendment changes, the mayor would serve a four-year term. The candidate could be elected to a consecutive four-year term as mayor for a total of eight years, but would have to leave council for four years before returning.
Council members would be term-limited at a combination of two four-year terms between the offices of council member and mayor.
The office of the mayor would not change, keeping the same charter-defined roles, powers and responsibilities. The council candidate receiving the most votes in each council election would be elected vice mayor, rather than mayor, for the first two years of his or her four-year term.
Jarvis also noted that direct-election would open up opportunities for residents who want to run for city council. If the issue passes, citizens could run for council without the fear of “accidentally” becoming mayor.