Thursday, June 22, 2000

Residency proposal debated

Election eligibility at issue

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — A proposed city charter amendment to be discussed today22 by the Charter Review Commission would require candidates for public office to live in Fairfield for at least two consecutive years before the filing deadline.

        Such a law would have prevented Councilman Jon Saylor, who lived in Fairfield less than that, from running for City Council. Mr. Saylor, who in May was named in a 68-count indictment in Butler County, is accused of creating sham voters and falsifying absentee ballots.

        Commission chairman David Seitz said the residency amendment is “one everybody was in favor of.”

        A second amendment under consideration would give council the power to remove a fellow council member. The only way to remove a council member now is by recall election, which in Mr. Saylor's case cannot come until July 1, after he has served six months on council.

        Under the city charter, a council member may also be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of council if the member has unexcused absences from three consecutive announced council meetings. Removal may also come for failure to possess or maintain the qualifications of a council member, conviction of a crime or violation of the city charter.

        Mr. Seitz said the proposed residency amendment will allow a resident to run for council who is “somewhat familiar with how Fairfield operates and has a vested interest in the city.”

        A third amendment being considered would prohibit a candidate seeking public office from being an employee of the city at the time of the filing deadline.

        “I think that we're striving to make improvements to the charter to make it more adaptable to the city of Fairfield,” said law director John Clemmons.

Proposals reviewed
        The three amendments will be discussed at 6 p.m. today in Room 119 at the Fairfield Municipal Building, 5350 Pleasant Ave. The meeting is open to the public.

        Council will review the recommendations, and if approved, the amendments will be filed with the Board of Elections for placement on the November general election ballot.

        The Charter Review Commission met in April to elect officers and to schedule a public hearing, which was held in May.

        Comments about amendments to the charter were solicited from council members, department heads and members of boards and commissions.


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