On the Nov. 8 ballot, Sherwood voters will be asked to consider making changes to the city's charter. This is not something that should be taken lightly. However, most of the revisions are straightforward, including deleting an obsolete provision regarding the use of Willamette River water; specifying that the municipal court judge must be a member of the Oregon state bar and prohibiting the mayor and city councilors from holding another elected office at the same time.
The most hotly contended change would extend the mayor's two-year term to four years, matching the tenure of the city councilors.
While we understand that some voters believe the process has been rushed and a citizen advisory committee would have involved more people and garnered more input, the issue comes down to this: Four-year terms are the standard, and there's a reason for it. Two years isn't enough time to be effective in office.
There was a time when two-year terms were considered more democratic because they brought elected officials in front of the people every other year, but with a growing city like Sherwood, getting out the vote is becoming more expensive and time-consuming.
With the current two-year terms, the mayor secures his or her office, works for a year, and then turns around and immediately begins campaigning again. Longer term-limits would mean that the mayor can stay focused on the issues instead of a campaign.
Most people agree that it takes time to settle into a new position, and we believe a mayor is most effective with more experience. Some experts say that it's the second and third year when elected officials are most productive.
A longer tenure also gives the person at the helm of the city a chance to develop intergovernmental relationships and be an advocate at the county and state level. It gives the mayor's staff a chance to get used to his or her leadership style and get comfortable in knowing what is expected of them.
It comes down to experience, stability and giving the mayor time to plan for the future of the city.
Tigard, Tualatin, Newberg, Beaverton, Wilsonville and Portland's mayors all have four years to prove themselves.
Real change takes time. Sherwood residents should give their mayor enough time to be effective.