Columbus to consider four-year terms for mayor, council

Published 11:30 pm Friday, December 22, 2017

COLUMBUS-The Town of Columbus is researching the possibility of extending mayor and council terms.

Columbus Town Council met Dec. 14 and heard from councilman Mark Phillips.

Phillips suggested the town change the mayor term from two to four years and for the top two council vote getters to receive four-year terms and the bottom receive two-year terms. Currently, the Columbus Mayor receives a two-year term and only the top council vote getter receives a four-year term. The bottom two council members receive two-year terms.

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Phillips said he doesn’t think it’s healthy for a town or town employees that every two years, 80 percent of the council could change. Phillips said he thinks it would give employees a little more job security and be less stressful.

Town attorney Lora Baker said the town charter can be changed without needing state legislative approval.

Councilman Robert Williamson said he would like to see how the town would transition over to four-year terms. Williamson was the high vote getter in the 2017 election and received a four-year term. Incumbents Richard Hall and Phillips received two-year terms as well as incumbent mayor Eric McIntyre.

Phillips said if the change was made, in 2019 the mayor would run for four years and the top two voter getters for council would get four-year terms, the bottom would get a two-year term and it would flow from there.

Phillips said he was elected two years ago and it took him a few months learn the issues and then he had to start thinking about running again.

“I think it would be a positive move for staff members,” Phillips said.

Williamson said the town could take the suggestion under advisement and do a little research.

Hall said at one point Columbus had three council members and then the town changed to four council members. Hall said changing the charter is a good idea to discuss.

“If you have someone who’s never been on council after two years they could get voted off and you’ve lost that experience,” McIntyre said. “In most cases it probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal but in some cases it would be good to have a voice with a little more experience.”