ROCHESTER - Tonight's City Council meeting will feature a discussion on proposed amendments to the City Charter that would change City Councilor terms from two to four years and free an applicant seeking an absentee ballot from having to state a reason for doing so.
The amendment to change the length of terms is fueled by the council's push toward the formation of an ethics board that could bring a vote for removal of any elected official to the full Council.
The change as proposed would be to further ensure the body's institutional memory in the event of a councilor's removal from office.
City Councilor Jeremy Hutchinson proposed the formation of an ethics board last month, and the city's Codes and Ordinances Committee agreed that a working group should be formed to examine other cities' ethics boards ordinances in order to fashion one that works for Rochester.
The proposed change to the charter's section 5 would transition terms from two to four years and would be implemented over two election cycles, with the 2023 vote including four-year terms for councilors seeking "A" seats in their ward and two years for those seeking "B" seats.
The following election in 2025 would comprise only four-year term seats.
The change in Section 51, which governs absentee voting, would be to take away the old language that predicated the allowance of an absentee ballot only for specific reasons like "the observance of a religious commitment, or who, by reason of physical disability, is unable to vote in person."
Over the years many cities and towns have informally relaxed such narrow parameters, but with the 2020 election and amid the COVID-19 pandemic many see the old restrictions as unnecessary.
Absentee voting is seen as more secure than mail-in voting because a person has to show ID when they apply.
Also proposed will be a resolution to change certain street addresses on Tebbetts Road to comply with E911 protocols.