Monroe commission suggests removing he/she pronouns from charter

The Monroe Charter Review Commission made several suggestions recently to members of city council. City council will review the amendment recommendations before placing any of them on the November ballot. FILE PHOTO
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The Monroe Charter Review Commission made several suggestions recently to members of city council. City council will review the amendment recommendations before placing any of them on the November ballot. FILE PHOTO

That’s among suggestions from Charter Review Commission that could be presented to voters in November.

Monroe voters may decide whether to replace the pronouns “he/she” with “they” in the charter, whether to set term limits for city council members and how the mayor is elected.

The Charter Review Commission, led by Kelly Clark, made several recommendations to City Council last week. After the suggestions are reviewed by council, they may be placed on the November ballot, she said.

Clark said the commission thought replacing the pronouns “he/she” with “they” or removing them completely from the city’s charter was “very, very important” and the six-person commission expressed “unanimous enthusiasm.”

She said the commission, made up of six women for the first time, thought the charter should be “more modern” and reflect a gender neutral society. The goal is to make the charter “readable for everyone,” she said.

The charter is reviewed every 10 years and Clark said members thought this was the appropriate time to rewrite the wording.

“Society will not change,” she said.

The commission also recommended limiting the number of years a council member can serve to two, four-year terms. After serving eight years, a council member could step down for at least two years, then run again, Clark said.

She wants Monroe voters to decide the issue because it’s “bigger than the six of us,” she said, referring to the commission.

By setting term limits, she said, the commission hopes to prevent “stagnation, indifference” on city council and create more turnover.

“Mix it up and keep us going,” she said.

She said the suggestion wasn’t a “negative reflection” on council, but a way to bring “new ideas to old problems.”

Clark said the term limit would impact those on council running in the next election. Anyone on council not on the ballot this year would be allowed to serve eight more years.

Of the seven council members, Robert “Bob” Routson (24 years), Todd Hickman (21 years) and Anna Hale (15 years) have exceeded the recommended term limits. The terms for those three expire Dec. 31, 2021.

Routson recently announced he was resigning at the end of the month. He’s retiring from the Butler County Auditor’s Office and said his $4,200 salary ($350 per month) as a member of council would impact his retirement benefits from the county.

The commission also recommended allowing anyone interested in being elected mayor to be voted on by city council members. Right now, the first person mentioned is elected, Clark said.


MONROE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

Tom Callahan: First term expires Dec. 31, 2023.

Mayor Jason Frentzel: Second term expires Dec. 31, 2023.

Vice Mayor Keith Funk: Second term expires Dec. 31, 2023.

Anna Hale: Fourth term expires Dec. 31, 2021.

Todd Hickman: Third term expires Dec. 31, 2021.

Christina McElfresh: Appointed to fill a vacancy on Feb. 13, 2018. Term expires Dec. 31, 2023.

Robert “Bob” Routson: Sixth term expires Dec. 31, 2021.

SOURCE: Monroe City Council records