Board fails to agree on mayor pro tem, super majority discussion
July 23, 2014
Windsor Town Board members failed during Monday’s work session to agree about whether to bring back the appointment of a mayor pro tem for a formal vote, as well as whether the town should change its super-majority policy.
The board made three attempts to get enough votes to appoint a mayor pro tem at its May 12 meeting, but each failed for a lack of support from a super majority — or five votes from seven members — of the board. The role of the mayor pro tem is to facilitate town board meetings in the event the mayor isn’t able to attend.
According to the town’s charter, a super majority of the board is needed to pass any ordinance on second reading, including an ordinance the board could pass to ask voters about whether to amend the super-majority requirement in the charter, Town Attorney Ian McCargar told the board.
Mayor John Vazquez suggested the board consider changing the super-majority requirement from two-thirds of the elected board members to two-thirds of the present board members.
Board member Myles Baker asked the board if it would be easier to have a “gentleman’s agreement” to postpone any vote on the second reading of an ordinance until all board members are present.
Board member Christian Morgan said he wouldn’t feel comfortable with an agreement like that after making a similar request to postpone the board’s earlier discussion on accessory dwelling units, to which the board didn’t acquiesce.
Board member Robert Bishop-Cotner said the board has passed 151 ordinances in the past six years, four of which required a super-majority vote. Of those four votes, there was only one time that all seven board members weren’t present for the vote, and that time the board tabled the ordinance until the full board could be present.
He said he agreed with having a super-majority requirement because it allows for dissenting voices on the board to carry more weight.
Baker said that making changes to the town’s charter shouldn’t happen lightly and didn’t see any urgency to make a change to the super-majority requirement. He said the board shouldn’t make it easier to pass new ordinances and that the super-majority situation forces the board to compromise.
Vazquez said the super-majority was especially embarrassing for the board during the mayor pro tem discussion because the board was unable to make a decision.
Board member Ivan Adams said he didn’t have a problem with the super-majority requirement but said it was ridiculous the board couldn’t agree on a suitable mayor pro tem.
“We sound like a bunch of fourth- and fifth-graders,” Adams said.
At points during the meeting, Vazquez and Bishop-Cotner raised their voices and argued about the meeting in which the ordinance appointing a mayor pro tem failed multiple times.
The work session ended before the board could come to any conclusion about whether the topics should be brought back for any formal action.