Measure M was added quietly to the Nov. 2 ballot following a unanimous recommendation by the City Council on Aug. 3. No one has spent any money campaigning on behalf of or against the proposition.
“I thought that if council members have the same vote as mayor, why should they have to struggle to run every two years?” Mayor Becky Campo said of her reasons for seeking the measure.
If approved, the measure would apply starting in 2012. It would not apply to the mayor elected Tuesday, Nov. 2, who will serve two years.
Former Patterson Mayor Wade Bingham, one of the strongest advocates for the shorter mayor’s term when the question was addressed in the early 1980s, said he now regrets that stance.
“I made a mistake,” he said this week. “It was short-sightedness.”
The two-year policy was implemented at the same time residents began electing the mayor. Previously, residents elected only City Council members, and the council would vote among itself who would be mayor for each year.
At that point, Bingham thought the two-year term was ideal, because it would allow more opportunities for voters to choose someone else for the mayor’s post if it appeared they had elected the wrong person for the job. He changed his mind, however, after a few years of watching the two-year system.
“It takes you two years to learn the ropes, especially if you’re a first-time candidate,” Bingham said.
This year is an ideal time to implement a four-year mayoral term, Bingham said, as Mayor Becky Campo is not seeking re-election. Because there is no incumbent seeking the post, it will not appear there is an ulterior agenda for extending the mayor’s period of service, he said.
Campo said she first considered the idea of extending the mayor’s length of duty after she wrapped up her first term in office.
“Two years was just not enough,” she said.
If people have reason to get rid of the mayor before the term expires, they can always recall that person, Campo said.
Local residents in downtown Patterson on Tuesday, Oct. 26, appeared split on the matter.
Mike Morris, who was hanging out at Blues Café, said he liked the idea of a four-year term, as it would keep mayors from spending a good deal of their term campaigning for office.
On the other hand, Ruben Muniz, who stood outside US Bank, said the shorter term keeps candidates accountable.
“If people are dissatisfied, it would give more opportunity for people to choose a new (mayor),” he said.
• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.