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RP votes to change commissioner terms

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
March 30, 2018

The Rohnert Park City Council voted Tuesday to lengthen the terms of office for city commissioners from two to four years and extended the terms of office for several existing planning commissioners.

A 3-0 vote led to the change of office updates, which will now be more streamlined and coincide with the terms of office of the appointing council member’s terms of office. Typically, commissioners from city commissions, committees and boards have received only just two years in office, however, this lack of staggered terms led to a continuity issue.

In December of 2016 the city council established an ad hoc committee to address the issue and come up with a solution that would better manage and synchronize terms of office.

It was then that the committee decided on the staggering of terms back in August of 2017.

“Staggering terms of office prevents appointee terms from expiring at the same time, thus reducing the possibility that all appointees on a particular CCB (Committee, commission or board) would be new and without experience which is undesirable,” explains the agenda item report prepared by City Clerk JoAnne Buergler. “Four-year terms of office that coincide with the appointing/nominating council member’s term of office keeps CCB member terms from expiring in the same year.”

Currently, commissioners on the Planning Commissioner only have two terms, which do not coordinate with their appointing council member terms of office. After the implementation of the longer terms, many of their positions will not expire until 2020.

Commissioners Susan Haydon, Gerard Giudice and John E. Borba will be appointed with the extra years in office. The other two commissioners will not receive an extension as their terms are already set to expire in December of 2018, the same expiration time of their appointing council members, Mayor Pam Stafford and Council member Amy Ahanotu.

Due to the change in terms, the ordinance will be changed to reflect the extended terms of office, however, the other aspects of the ordinance will remain the same. Other aspects in the ordinance include several other mandates that govern what to do if there is a commissioner vacancy or if members incur expenses in carrying out their deeds as commissioner.

In the instance of a vacancy, the position will be appointed for “unexpired portion of the term” and “Member of the commission may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in carrying out business of the planning commission provided such reimbursement is approved by the city council” the ordinance stipulates.

The three present council members unanimously supported the change, however, Council member Mackenzie and Vice Mayor Callinan were absent.

City Clerk Buergler said the change is important because it will help ensure the streamlined continuity of work for commissioners and their appointing councilmembers.

“The appointing council member’s term office will align with the commissioner’s term of office. So this not only makes the terms four years, but it adjusts three of the five commissioner’s terms,” Buergler said.

The change in term also aligns with the city’s Strategic Plan Alignment Goal A to, “Practice participative leadership at all levels.”

During the public hearing for the agenda item there were no public comments of opposition towards the move. Council members also did not voice any comments regarding the change.