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NK voters facing four ballot questions in today’s election

November 6, 2012

Special to the Standard

On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls to cast their ballots in this year’s presidential election. In addition to selecting a round of political leaders, they will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on several state and town issues.
North Kingstown voters have four local questions that concern amendments to the North Kingstown Home Rule Charter following the seven state questions on their ballot. One local question accompanies the state measures on the Exeter ballot.
Here’s a look at the local and state questions on this year’s ballot:

North Kingstown
n Question 8: If passed, North Kingstown’s Question 8 would impose a term limit of “12 consecutive years” for elected officials or people appointed to boards, commissions and committees.
Once a person has served their term limit, they would be ineligible for reelection or reappointment to their former post for two consecutive years.
The town council would have the ability, “by unanimous vote” to reappoint a person to their “board, commission or committee” if they have special qualifications required by their former post, or “for any other good reason.”
n Question 9: If North Kingstown’s Question 9 passes, the “advice and consent of the majority of the town council” would be required for all “town manager appointments of department heads including any employee who reports directly to the town manage.”
n Question 10: If Question 10 passes, the school committee would be reduced from seven members to five.
Kimberly Page, chair of the current committee, says she is opposed to the measure because it takes all seven committee members to complete the work of the council and have enough people for the various subcommittees.
Page said she is also concerned about the effect a reduced committee would have on the decision-making process.
Currently, a quorum (the minimum number committee members required to be present at a meeting) for the current committee is four, which means, three of the four members would have to be in agreement to have a majority when only a quorum is present.
“If you only have five people in the committee you only need three for a quorum and essentially all you need is two votes at some point to pass something,” Page said. “I don’t’ know that would be a good reason to make a decision.”
In an email, the committee’s vice-chair, Larry Ceresi said that although in the past he was a proponent of reducing the number of committee members to make meetings more functional, he now opposes the idea.
“It doesn’t matter how many committee members there are; five, seven or 20,” Ceresi said. “What does matter is having individuals serve on a school committee that can think independently while working collaboratively with others.”
“If you have a disruptive person on the committee, it can really make your meetings very difficult and long and it wouldn’t really matter whether you had five or seven members, you would still have the problem,” committee member Lynda Avanzato said.

n Question 11: If Question 11 passes “the signatures of three percent” of qualified town voters would be required for petitions, instead of “three percent of the qualified electors who voted in the previous general election.”

Exeter voters have one local ballot question. If Question 8 on the Exeter ballot passes, it would add language to the town’s charter allowing for the hiring of a town administrator.
Arlene Hicks, president of the town council, said she supports the measure because “times have changed” and there are many tasks a town administrator could be used for in Exeter.
According to Hicks, a town administrator would make sure town ordinances are followed and “the work of the town gets done.”
Although she would like to see a town administrator in place, she said Question 8 does not guarantee one would be hired, even if it passes.
“We’re not asking people to approve the hiring of somebody. We’re only asking to put the language in the charter that allows for a town administrator,” Hicks said.
Hicks said even if the question passes, nothing would be done about it “at least until June,” and even then, the voters at Exeter’s yearly financial town meeting would have to approve the funding of the position.
Town council member Daniel Patterson opposes the idea of a town manager or administrator.
“Exeter is small and I think we can do without one,” he said.
The potential costs involved in hiring a town manager, such as hiring a secretary and finding room for them in the town hall also made the idea unappealing for Patterson.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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