Village Board enacts term limits on elected officials

Elected officials for Mayor and village Trustee will now have limits on the number of years they can serve in their positions, according to a new law enacted by the Stillwater Village Board on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The board voted 3-1 (with one member absent) to enact term limits following a public hearing in which no one spoke for or again the measure. Mayor Judith Wood-Shaw casted the one “no” vote.

The purpose of the law, proposed by Trustee Patrick Nelson, is to impose term limits on the offices of the Village Mayor and village Trustee such that no person shall be elected to a single office in more than three consecutive general elections. The Mayor and Trustees serve 4-year terms, so 12 years would be the limit to serve consecutively. Some provisions were also built into the law stating:

  • Election or appointment to a partial term of office to fill a vacancy shall not be counted against the term limitations
  • Any elected term of office held prior to the village General Election of November 5, 2019 shall not be counted against the term limitations
  • The terms limits applied to one office shall not prohibit an elective public officer from being elected to another and different elective office

“The idea here is to create a system of predictable vacancies that allows a person to step in and run where there are going to be known opportunities,” Nelson said. “I know sometimes people are weary of challenging a person who has been in office for a while. This way after 12 years somebody will have to step down, and basically you will have 4 years notice on when that will be.”

Term limits will also give the municipality opportunities to develop new leadership, Nelson explained.

“It’s so people don’t get solidified or calcified in any given office for a long period of time, for decades say,” Nelson said. “It’s not a knock on any individual person, it’s just that being in power for too long a period of time can bring negative consequences. I think it’s going to be good for our government in the long term.”

Trustee Judith Wood-Zeno said she was “on the fence” with her vote until the board discussed the ability to reverse the law if it doesn’t work out for the village.

“I’m a little concerned for a small village like ours, what if there’s no one to run?” she asked. “Then what?”

“It is rotational so nothing bans a person from coming back and running again after a few years (out of the position),” Nelson said.

In other business Oct. 20, the Village Board:

  • Made revisions to the village water regulations and rates effective Nov. 1, 2020. 1C of the policy now reads: “The application fee for single family residences shall be $1,500 payable to the Village of Stillwater. For multifamily residences such as apartment buildings the fee for the first unit shall be $1,500 and all subsequent units shall be at $1,000 each. Commercial or industrial facilities fees shall be determined by meeting of the Village Board.”
  • Authorized the village to accept the low bid to purchase new fencing for the basketball courts at the American Legion fields not to exceed $3,800. Village Department of Public Works crews will do the fence installation. The lining of the basketball and pickle ball courts will follow.