Akron -- Silver Lake voters will be asked to consider three charter amendments at the polls Nov. 8.
Finalizing how the issues will be presented, the Summit County Board of Elections on Aug. 11 unanimously approved replacement ballot language as submitted by the village solicitor, Robert Heydorn.
Board Chairman William D. Rich said the language that was originally submitted "really did not inform the voters what they were voting on in any meaningful way." Rich said he and fellow board member Bryan C. Williams came up with more informative language. Board of Elections staff notified Silver Lake of the changes, he said, and Heydorn proposed the alternative language, "which I find to be good and I'm happy to support the use of," Heydorn said.
The ballot issues will be worded as follows:
/ Shall Section 7.01 of the Charter of the Village of Silver Lake be amended as proposed in Ordinance 47-2016 to provide that the Mayor, in addition to his other duties, shall continue to be, and perform the duties of, the Director of Public Safety, eliminating the provision that Council may establish a separate Director of Public Safety?
/ Shall Section 7.03 of the Charter of the Village of Silver Lake be amended as proposed in Ordinance 48-2016 to provide that the Chief of Police shall appoint other officers, patrolmen, and personnel of the Police Department with the concurrence of the Director of Public Safety?
/ Shall Section 9.01 of the Charter of the Village of Silver Lake be amended as proposed in Ordinance 49-2016 to provide that each member of the Park Board shall be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by Council?
"The way they were originally presented by Council, it was simply we wanted to amend a section of the charter without identifying exactly how they were to be amended," Heydorn explained during the Board of Elections meeting. "So the Board of Elections said it is not showing how they are going to be amended, just that they will be. And so I'm fine with that."
Heydorn said the process began with a Silver Lake Charter Review Commission deciding what changes it believed needed to be made to the Charter. Village Council then unanimously approved three of the Commission's recommendations in June.
"When I was confronted with your language which made further explanation, I decided that if we were gong to talk about making it explicit for the voters' sake that we ought to do that and be/ perfectly explicit," said Heydorn. "And so I did that."
Heydorn said this process of submitting and rewriting ballot language corresponds with a procedure he's grown accustomed to for the past 40 years where the prosecutor or Board of Elections contacts him and let's him know if his language doesn't clearly reflect what is in the Charter amendment.
"And I usually rewrite it and resubmit and it goes through the process and it comes back, and it's just fine," he said.
For Ordinance 47-2016, Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey explained to Village Council in June that the director of public safety function has always been performed by the mayor. The charter currently includes a provision that gives Council the authority to appoint someone else as the director of public safety if it determined that doing so was in the "best interest of the village." The proposed charter amendment, if approved, would eliminate Council's ability to appoint someone else and stipulate that the mayor will serve as the village's director of public safety.
For Ordinance 48-2016, Hovey told Council in June that the charter currently states that the director of public safety (mayor) appoints police officers, however, what actually happens is that the police chief appoints officers with the mayor's concurrence. Hovey said he relies on the knowledge of Chief John Conley to find qualified candidates. The proposed charter change stipulating the police chief appoint all department officers, patrolmen and personnel with the concurrence of the director of public safety would formalize a practice that has already been occurring, said Hovey.
For Ordinance 49-2016, the village's park board currently has four elected members and three more members who are appointed by the mayor. Hovey told Council in June it can be difficult to find people to run for park board and if no one runs for a vacant seat up for election, the mayor noted then has to appoint another reader. The proposed charter change would give the mayor the authority to appoint each park board member with the confirmation of Council.