EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 6, 2013

Zanni wants smaller City Council


Zanni was a councilor-at-large for six years before being elected mayor in November 2011. In that same election, Methuen voters overwhelmingly defeated a series of proposed changes to the charter.

The highest-profile charter proposal in 2011 sought to eliminate term limits for elected officials. Of the roughly 8,000 residents who voted on the charter ballot question, 75 percent voted “No.”

Given the charter vote two years ago, Kannan questioned why Zanni would propose such major changes now.

“I don’t understand why he didn’t voice those opinions when we had a Charter Commission that cost the city $30,000 and was voted down,” said Kannan. “Where were those opinions then?”

Added East District Councilor Ron Marsan, “If you don’t like it, don’t run. Don’t fix what’s not broken.”

“I believe the people have already spoken on the charter,” said Marsan. “I like the way it is. If we have a councilor or a mayor that’s not doing a good job, they don’t get reelected.”

Central District Councilor Jamie Atkinson was more receptive to some of Zanni’s ideas. While he didn’t agree with the proposed reduction to five councilors, Atkinson said he would like to see mayoral terms as long as four years.

With longer terms, Atkinson said the increased job security in the mayor’s office would help attract qualified candidates.

“People get in now, you have one year and then you’re campaigning again,” said Atkinson.

Atkinson said he also has no problem with staggered terms for councilors.

“I think it’s something to be looked at,” said Atkinson.

‘A long, drawn-out process’

The formal procedure for a charter review begins with a petition.

Petition organizers must first collect thousands of signatures, with the precise requirement tied to a percentage of the total number of registered voters in the city. Once the signatures are certified, voters elect a nine-member Charter Commission.

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