EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 6, 2013

Zanni wants smaller City Council

METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni said longer mayoral terms and the elimination of four seats on the nine-member City Council will improve the efficiency of local government and increase cooperation among elected officials.

If re-elected this fall, Zanni said he’ll consider pushing for changes to the city charter that, if approved, would reshape the face of Methuen government.

Not surprisingly, several city councilors — including mayoral challenger Jennifer Kannan — don’t like Zanni’s ideas.

Zanni believes Methuen’s two-year mayoral terms are too short. He’d like to see a change to three-year terms, which under the city’s six-year term limits would allow for a maximum two terms instead of the current three, two-year terms.

Zanni also said the size of the City Council should be reduced from nine to five members.

The new makeup of the council, under Zanni’s proposal, would consist of two at-large members representing the entire city and one councilor each representing the East, Central and West districts.

The council currently consists of three councilors-at-large and two councilors from each district.

Finally, Zanni said councilors’ two-year terms should be staggered so the entire body doesn’t face re-election in the same year, as is presently the case.

“These are things to look at,” Zanni told The Eagle-Tribune. “Sometimes larger groups don’t work as well. I have to look and see what the public wants to do, too.”

Zanni said he won’t pursue the changes to the city charter without support from both the newly-elected City Council and members of the public. But if there is support, Zanni said the process could begin as early as next year.

“I think for next year, I’d like to look at that,” said Zanni. “I’ll get some thoughts for the new council as well.”

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