LETTER: Willhite: Vote No On Wellington Charter Changes

Recently, the Village of Wellington decided to bring forward two potential charter amendments for the electorate to vote on. These two charter amendments will appear on your August primary election ballot, and more specifically, on page two of your ballot. The ballot questions are related to term limits of the mayor/council members and the village’s elections canvassing board. Although both of these ballot questions may seem insignificant at first glance, it’s the way they got here, who’s pushing for them and why on a primary ballot that are of concern. I have to say, historically I am a strong supporter of term limits. Yes, elections are term limits, but a more defined maximum number of years served in office is the absolute definer.

But I must tell you, the process by which these charter amendments are coming forward for your consideration leaves me very skeptical of our elected leaders in Wellington. Historically, every few years the village council asked for volunteers and appointed a citizens-driven charter review committee. The committee would convene, review the charter, hold public meetings, gather input from the community and present to the council potential ideas for updating the charter. This process was not done for these two charter amendments. It appears this time some staff or council members drafted their own charter amendments and placed them on an agenda as a regular agenda item. After a short amount of deliberation and very little public input, the council voted 4-1 to place these two potential charter amendments on the ballot. However, unlike in the past, they are not on the general election ballot, they chose to put them on a primary ballot in August.

Finally, the amendments only limit the number of years the mayor can serve. With these amendments, any of the council members can run for mayor after their eight years on the council. However, the same does not apply for the mayor. The mayor cannot run for another position after the same eight-year term. I see some personal gain or personality conflicts in these proposed changes. As soon the current mayor talked about running for a council seat once her term as mayor ended, these proposed changes came forward. If the language was clear that no council member could run for mayor as well as no mayor could run for a council seat, maybe I would be a little more open to the proposed change. But it seems this is being driven for only one reason, to keep Anne Gerwig from being re-elected in Wellington any time soon. For these reasons, I believe the residents of Wellington should vote no on these rushed, unneeded changes to what has been working for almost 30 years. Please join me and many folks I have spoken to in questioning this process and vote no on the Village of Wellington’s charter changes.

Matt Willhite, Wellington

Editor’s note: Mr. Willhite is the current state representative for District 86 and is a former member of the Wellington Village Council.