Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri is proposing term limits for the city’s elected officials. During last Monday night’s City Council meeting, Silvestri presented a motion asking the council to approve a home rule petition seeking term limits for the City Council, School Committee and the mayor. Silvestri presented a five-term, 10-year limit for all councillors and School Committee members, and a three-term, 12-year limit for the mayor. The time for the term limits would only go into effect if the measure passes, so any previous time served would not count toward the term limits, Silvestri said.
An elected official who serves to the extent of the term limit could also run for and hold a different office, Silvestri said.
Silvestri’s motion was referred to the City Council’s Legislative Affairs Subcommittee.
In other council motions, Ward 5 Councillor Al Fiore requested that the city solicitor provide the council with a legal opinion regarding the mayor’s authority to allow multiple board and commission members’ terms to expire while they continue to serve without the confirmation of the council. “It’s very concerning that dozens and dozens of members on boards and commissions are serving on expired terms without the ability of the City Council to confirm or deny,” said Fiore.
During Monday night’s meeting, Fiore listed a number of boards and commissions, including the Board of Assessors, the Conservation Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, where members are serving on expired terms. In some cases, according to Fiore, those terms have been expired for several years. “I find it alarming,” said Fiore. “There is no reason for it that I can think of, other than the ability to remove [members] if you don’t like a vote they take. This is ridiculous; I think we need an opinion from the legal department as to the mayor’s ability to do such.”
Fiore said the council should not be abdicating its authority to appoint or reappoint board and commission members.
Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo said he believes it is disrespectful to the board and commission members to not know what their status is. “Your term expires and you just hear crickets; you hear nothing; you kind of keep showing up to a meeting until that one meeting where they say you are not needed anymore,” said Rizzo. “Either appoint or don’t reappoint – that’s the reason you have terms, whether they are for three years or five years. You don’t let them just go on and on and not know, especially with the Board of Assessors, which is a full-time job.”