Municipal Issue 31 – Proposed Charter Amendment, City of Cleveland Heights
Ballot Language: Shall Article III, Section 4 of the Charter of the City of Cleveland Heights be amended to provide that any vacancy in the Council shall be filled by appointment by a majority of the remaining members of the Council within forty-five (45) days of the occurrence of such vacancy, and that if Council fails to fill such vacancy within forty-five (45) days, the Mayor shall fill such vacancy within ten (10) days; and to provide that for any vacancy in Council not occurring in the year that the regular election for that office is scheduled, an election for the unexpired term shall be held at the next general election occurring more than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the date of the vacancy?
A YES vote means approval of the proposed amendment
A NO vote means rejection of the proposed amendment
League Explanation of Municipal Issue 31: The city’s charter currently provides for any vacancy in the council to be filled by appointment by a majority of the remaining members of the council. However, the charter does not provide a specific timeframe by which council must make an appointment for filling the vacant council seat.
The proposed charter amendment provides that should council fail to fill a council vacancy within 45 days after the vacancy occurs, the city’s mayor must do so within 10 days. The person appointed to fill the vacancy will serve until a successor is elected as described below, except that if the vacancy occurs in the year that the regular election for that office is already scheduled, the person appointed will serve until the end of that year.
The proposed amendment further provides that, for any vacancy in council not occurring in the year that the regular election for that office is scheduled, an election for the unexpired term must be held at the nextgeneral election occurring more than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the date of the vacancy. The term of office for a person elected to fill the vacancy at that election will begin at the first regularly scheduled council meeting following the certification of electoral results of that election and will extend for the remainderof the unexpired term.
Pros: The proposed charter amendment provides a widely accepted mechanism for the mayor to fill a council vacancy by appointment if council has failed to do so within a given period of time. If the proposed amendment is approved, the city’s council vacancy provision will be similar to those of other cities in the county.
Cons: Some prefer that all council vacancies be filled at election rather than by appointment. Some also believe that the council president should have the appointing power, so that only council would have the power to fill its vacancies.
The complete text of the proposed charter amendment appears as an exhibit to Ordinance No. 053-2021, which was passed by the Cleveland Heights City Council on August 30, 2021. That ordinance and the exhibit may be viewed at https://www.clevelandheights.com/1441/August-30-2021.