Carefree council approves move to four-year terms

By Curtis Riggs | November 12, 2008

Voters decide March 10
CAREFREE – Voters will have the option of approving four-year, staggered terms for Town Council members during the March 10 municipal primary election.

The proposal to double the length of Town Council terms was approved 6 –1, with Councilman Bob Coady dissenting, at the Nov. 5 council meeting.

Mayor Wayne Fulcher said the proposal to move to four-year, staggered terms is about continuity.

“Council members will be able to spend more time doing the people’s business and less time running for office,” he said.

Coady said he opposed the proposal because the current system “seems to work fine.
“I am uncomfortable taking away from citizens the right to get rid of somebody who is not doing their job,” he said. The only other option to remove a councilperson is through a recall effort, which he admitted many citizens want no part of.

Vice Mayor Lloyd Meyer agreed a move to four-year terms reflects a basic management concept, which is designed to enhance continuity.

“Carefree has a strong mayoral form of government and a very active Town Council,” he said, adding the experience of incumbent councilmen is critical when water contracts are negotiated. “We have many challenges yet to come.”

If a move to four-year terms is approved by Carefree citizens, the sitting Town Council will be broken into two groups. One group, which will include three councilmen, will be elected to two-year terms. The rest of the council will be elected for four years.

Fulcher used the failed candidacy of David Bernel Smith in the last Carefree elections as an example of how expensive it is to run for office every two years.

Councilman Bob Gemmill said Carefree “has fallen behind on the issue” of the length of terms. He pointed out only four Arizona cities, including Cave Creek, still have two-year terms for council-members. He said the other cities are Tombstone and Jerome.

Coady asked, “The system has worked fine for the past 24 years, if it is not broken why fix it?”

If Carefree is looking to change its form of government, Coady suggested direct election of the mayor by citizens should be approved. Presently the mayor and vice mayor are appointed by the council.