Addison’s Charter on SUCCESSIVE Terms
Is Very Clear, Braun and Chow are Eligible
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)
Todd Meier is again misusing Addison resources in an effort to influence the election. If it isn’t clear by all his attacks and the outrageous and false allegations Meier has directed at Joe Chow, Meier opposes Chow. That is his right, but Meier is prohibited by law from using Addison resources to attack Chow or, for that matter, Tom Braun. And yet, Meier persists, and has attacked Joe Chow in each of the last four newsletters, using Addison’s email list. The law prohibiting such conduct is clear. Meier just doesn’t care and continues to brazenly ignore it.
Meier now claims that provisions of Addison’s Charter regarding term limits cast doubt on the eligibility of Tom Braun and Joe Chow, because both served on Addison’s council some years ago. This is patently false, and it’s not even a close call. Let’s talk about it.
First and foremost, don’t let Meier’s timing be lost on you. The election is two weeks away. The candidates filed for office starting in January and that process closed more than two months ago. If Meier believed there was a genuine issue, he would have raised it long ago. So, make no mistake about what Meier is doing. This isn’t about the eligibility of candidates Meier opposes. This is about attacking those candidates in close proximity to the election, in an effort to influence the result on a false premise.
Second, I have yet to hear condemnation of Meier’s tactics from those who stand to benefit from his attacks on Joe Chow and others. It appears that they are fully on board with these negative tactics, which do nothing to advance Addison’s interests.
Third, let’s get to Addison’s Charter. The provision in question limits service to three SUCCESSIVE terms of office. It does not limit service on the council to three TOTAL terms. Here’s the language:
No person shall serve as Mayor for more than three (3) SUCCESSIVE terms of office, and no person shall serve as a councilmember for more than three (3) SUCCESSIVE terms of office.
(Charter, Section 8.04(h) (capitalization added)). The inclusion of the modifier “SUCCESSIVE,” and the absence of the word “TOTAL” are the keys. Meier’s suggestion is that you ignore “SUCCESSIVE,” and then add the word “TOTAL.” It’s just not what the Charter says, and it’s not how statutory construction works.
But then, Meier knows all that. He’s a lawyer like I am, and construing these laws is a significant part of our training. So, make no mistake about what’s going on here. Meier isn’t raising a genuine issue. Rather, Meier’s intent is to improperly influence the election by way of attacking Joe Chow and Tom Braun. It’s underhanded, dirty politics
We can do better, starting by rejecting Meier’s politics of deceit and division. That will start us on the path back to the Addison Way.