Fact Sheet - November 8, 2022 Special Election

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Fact Sheet – November 8 Special Election

 

Q1. What are we actually voting on?

We are voting on a charter change regarding elections of the mayor and city council members. The measure is to approve three-year terms [instead of the current two-year terms] and change part of the wording from the 2018 citizen petition that passed that originally created term limits. It will not change the three term limits the citizens approved but does increase the number of years a person may serve.

 

Q2. What will the wording on the ballot be?

According to the ordinance that passed at second reading on August 16,

“FOR” or “AGAINST” the Proposition:

CITY OF ARLINGTON PROPOSITION A

AMENDMENT OF SECTIONS 4 AND 9 OF ARTICLE IV AND SECTION 2 OF ARTICLE V OF THE CITY CHARTER TO PROVIDE THAT THE TERM OF OFFICE FOR THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SHALL BE THREE YEARS AND TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON MAY SERVE NO MORE THAN NINE YEARS AS A COUNCIL MEMBER AND NINE YEARS AS MAYOR AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE STAGGERING OF TERMS

 

Q3. Will this include any type of “Recall” ability?

No. That is certainly not very wise. Currently sitting on the council is a member who thinks so little of the citizens and his responsibility to the citizens, he decided to skip a city council meeting to go see a movie. Yet, there is nothing we as citizens can do. He is currently accountable to the citizens every other year when we vote. This proposition would mean that he, and other council members would only be accountable to citizens every three years.

 

If this proposition passes, another charter change cannot occur until November 8, 2024. With the normal flow of elections that means citizens would vote on it in May 2025. So, if this proposition passes, “recall” could not be added until May 2025 at the earliest.

 

Q4. How long have two-year terms been in place?

The citizens have not been able to get an answer to that question. It was asked by two different citizens, one at the August 9 first reading [no response given], and one at the August 16 second reading [with a little spat as a result]. It has been two-year terms since I started voting in Arlington, 40+ years ago. It has in all likelihood been two-year terms since the beginning of Arlington city government.

 

Q5. Is this what the citizen committee recommended?

No. The citizen committee that was formed in the summer of 2020 met from July 16 – July 30 and recommended four two-year terms [rather than the current limit of three two-year terms], and the ability to come back after sitting out for two years. The committee did not recommend three-year terms.

 

Q6. So why are we voting on three-year terms?

Lack of integrity would be the simple answer. The mayor had the subject added to the August 2 afternoon agenda. [Aug 2 afternoon meeting] at 5:05:07, the mayor states, “Now we've all received a bunch of e-mails from people on term lengths.” A public information request of e-mails to the mayor shows from July 1 – August 16, 23 different people e-mailed the mayor in support of changing term limits [not all said three-year terms on the November 2022 ballot]. That is all it took, less than two dozen, for him to have the item added to the agenda and approved in a rush job to get it added to the ballot. The earliest of those e-mails was July 20. It appears that the mayor is acting on behalf of a select few privileged comrades, rather than listening to what the citizens have said in 2018 and 2020. He could again try to get citizen input, delaying a November 2022 vote, but there is no guarantee the citizens’ input would match the wording desired by his comrades [note the total lack of transparency].

 

Q7. So why did the council members agree to put three-year terms on the ballot?

Council members have justified their action and relieved their guilt of doing this void of true citizen input, with an attitude similar to as stated here by Mr. Hogg. [Aug 9 afternoon meeting] at 3:29:46, Mr. Hogg states, “We are not approving something. We are asking the voters do they want to approve this? Let's make this very clear we are not making the decision. We are making the decision to ask voters do they want to make the decision.” Mr. Hogg is right that the citizens will decide. However, the council is deciding on the wording to be voted upon which is not anything the citizens, in their limited opportunities, have stated they wanted. Anyone with knowledge of Arlington politics can easily guess which side will have heavy dollars spent attempting to buy the desired results, especially since they controlled the wording.

 

Q8. Okay, so what are the advantages of three-year terms?

A linchpin's e-mail agreed upon by others copied states, “I believe what we have discovered is that a two year term for our council members is too short. Our council members are constantly having to run for office which results in them being required to continually seek campaign funds from local businesses and citizens. It also takes away time from them running the city and results in the city having to constantly incur the cost of an election.” It certainly seems strange to say they constantly have to run for office. The two-year terms have been around for so many, many generations, and suddenly this is a problem [doesn't pass the smell test]?

 

That linchpin's e-mail went on to state: “As you know, the current ordinance also provides that the council members may only serve a maximum of six years. This is too short. We are losing our council members just as they are getting comfortable and beginning to fully understand what it takes to run a city the size of Arlington. How many businesses do you know that will invest the time and effort to educate its management team only to fire them at the end of six years? I would suggest that nine years would be a more suitable maximum time limit.” The citizens committee in 2020 addressed this with the possibility of a council member serving a total of eight years, plus a possible return after a two-year hiatus versus the linchpin's requested nine years. However, again, the citizens’ input is being totally ignored in favor of heeding the voice of the privileged few comrades.

 

At 49:35 [August 16 evening meeting] Ms. Moise attempts to explain the constantly running for office by stating, “This is the last 18 months of my third term. And during all that time what I've heard is you all seem like you are running all the time, and we are. For example, the middle term I ran for a year for an 18-month term because of Covid.” Again, this does not pass the smell test. She ran a year for the 18-month term. She did not say she ran 2.5 years for the 18-month term. [She was elected May 2018, and only ran a year for the November 2020 election. That is not “running all the time.”]

 

At 53:56 [August 16 evening meeting] Mr. Piel brings up the money aspect of campaigning. This is relevant because often you hear the phrase, follow the money trail. He states, “There are a lot of people who make the decision of having to raising $50 grand, $75 grand, $100 grand, $250 grand to run for mayor every two years puts serving on Arlington city council out of their reach. And I am voting for this because you won't have to do that but every three years.” Ironic that Mr. Piel brings this up because the grand total that all of Mr. Piel's opponents have spent in his two city council elections is probably under $10,000. The money trail will show the very same people pushing for “three years” language are the same people that back/buy certain candidates and are gladly looking to spend 2/3 of what they would spend with 2-year terms. The money issue was also discussed in the some of the e-mails received by the mayor. It’s frankly no wonder why these privileged comrades are pushing for three-year terms.

 

Q9. What are the disadvantages of three-year terms?

There is a whole lot of right versus wrong in this situation. Why are only 23 citizens’ e-mails needed to determine the language? Why should only 23 e-mails have more power than ten thousand signatures and tens of thousands of votes? When the citizens spoke in 2018 and 2020, they wanted two-year terms. So why is the council forcing this three-year wording on the citizens? Why is the council not listening to the citizens? Why is this being rushed with very poor planning? Why is recall not a part of increasing the term length by 50%? Why the total lack of transparency?

 

Q10. Has the council's modus operandi of ignoring citizen input and deciding something needed to be quickly added to the ballot been used before?

Yes. The last issue the citizens voted on was the sales tax usage for an EDC (Economic Development Corporation). Suddenly in January 2020 it became an important issue to rush this onto the ballot [with a February 2020 deadline]. You have to wonder if they held town hall and informational meetings where the citizens were told of the advantages of the “property tax relief” option we might currently be receiving millions of sales tax dollars for property tax relief.

 

 

Compiled by Richard Weber

Arlington Spectator, Editor

arlspectator@yahoo.com