Council’s selection authority in doubt
by Erin Dentmon
February 03, 2013 12:26 AM | 2914 views | 6 6 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Some members of the Canton City Council are looking to nominate new members to the city’s boards, commissions and authorities.

“I’m recommending a citywide slate of candidates,” said Council Member John Beresford.

Beresford said the boards have been made up of a “small, select group” in past years. Boards with community members appointed by the City Council include the Downtown Development Authority, the Stormwater Advisory Board, Planning and Zoning and other boards.

“We have grown in the past 13 years. Our population in 2000 was around 5,000. Now we have over 23,000 people. We have a tremendous amount of talent and people who are interested,” Beresford said.

According to the city’s charter, the mayor has the power to nominate board members. His nominations can be approved or rejected by the council.

If the nominations are rejected, council members have the opportunity to nominate people and vote on those nominations.

Council Member Glen Cummins said council members are overstepping their bounds by working up a slate of candidates before hearing the mayor’s nominations.

“It’s a very defined procedure, and I think we ought to adhere to it,” he said. “I think that’s a lot of the reason we’re having problems in the council. I am a very procedurally oriented person. When these council members figure that they can do anything they want to do, I don’t agree with that. Don’t just violate the method that’s described.”

While nominations have historically been made in January, Mayor Gene Hobgood did not make any nominations during last month’s council meeting.

Hobgood said he first saw the slate of candidates on Jan. 16, the day before the council’s regular January meeting.

“I couldn’t possibly nominate somebody I didn’t know. I wouldn’t nominate somebody I haven’t met,” he said.

Hobgood said he is open to nominating people suggested by council members but must decide whether to replace standing board members who want to continue serving.

“It’s always good to get new blood in certain areas, but those should be put in as vacancies come up. I would say if someone left a board, then I could see where we could pick somebody from the list of nominees that would like to serve,” he said. “I don’t know why you’d want to replace someone who’s doing a good job just for the sake of replacing them.”

Hobgood said he may make some board nominations at the council’s voting meeting this month, but he expects the vetting process to take some time.

For the vast majority of the city’s boards, commissions and authorities, current members continue to serve after their terms expire until they are reappointed or someone else is appointed to the slot.

Beresford said the mayor is “sitting back” to delay action.

“It’s a shame that we can’t move ahead with this,” Beresford said.

Beresford said the city’s current board members have served well, but the time has come to bring in new members.

“In the past, people have been locked out by not reaching out citywide,” he said. “I’m not trying to do anything other than getting more of our city involved.”

But Cummins said he sees the new appointments as a retaliation move against the mayor.

“It’s very retaliatory and vindictive in who they have decided to remove from these boards and commissions. They are removing anybody who has expressed vocally, in a public forum, opposition to the things they are doing,” Cummins said. “They are removing anybody they can who has any close relationship with the mayor.”

Council Member Bob Rush said he contributed some names to the slate of candidates in an effort to get participation from more of the city’s population.

“What we’re trying to do is pull people from all over the city, from the various subdivisions within each of our wards,” Rush said.

“The committees have had the same people on them, and we’ve got some people on multiple committees.”

Hobgood said the three members of the stormwater committee slated to be replaced under the council members’ plans are the ones who “made the most noise” about reducing stormwater rates.

Beresford said he suggested removing these members because they “personally attacked” council members.
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Great Sky
February 04, 2013
After dismantling the City Charter and Mayor's office, it appears the Gang of Five are expanding their scorch and burn march to include anyone and everyone that has worked so hard to move Canton forward! Why on earth would they want to punish the volunteers that have spent so much time on these committees? What is their payback? These tyrants need to be held accountable for what they are doing to our city!!!
Reservoir Dog
February 05, 2013
It seems to me that with the six council members (five if Glenn is not counted) have a problem with the Mayor, maybe, just MAYBE it is his problem and not the councils?
February 06, 2013
the council has their own agenda and the mayor is in the way.
Jeff Brown
February 04, 2013
The good old boys are at it again. There are many members of these various boards that are "outside" the downtown core. The reason some people are on multiple boards is because of the board structures. If you serve on the Main Street Board you MUST be on another board (except for a few "at large" positions). I would urge the council to read all the by-laws of the Main Street Program and other boards and committees before blindly making "appointments". I would agree that these councilman are far overreaching their bounds. It is funny that this issue only came to surface after Mr. Key approached council about the use of stormwater funds...therefore, proving a vindictive move by Mr. Beresford.
Jennifer Dunn
February 03, 2013
I think some things are starting to fall into place in my mind now. Will these names be made public? And naturally, I assume that anyone who has a personal or financial interest in being on one of these committees will have to disclose relationships and conflicts. Here's to an extremely thorough public vetting process!
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