THE OTHER DAY I was thinking about the two-year term versus the four-year term for the office of mayor.
First, let me congratulate both popular incumbents, Nashua’s Jim Donchess and Manchester’s Joyce Craig, on their recent victories.
I find it interesting that my city’s mayor gets a four-year term while the Queen City’s mayor gets a two-year term. Of course, it’s up to any city to define how long these local offices should be. Some communities want the voters to decide the length of their mayoral terms, so they place the question on the ballot.
I would favor a two-year term for the city’s corner office. I just don’t believe that you need four years to exercise a long-term vision. The time in the corner office should keep the elected official on their toes and constantly in touch with the voters’ concerns. It also avoids voter apathy. But as far as I can remember, the top city seat in Nashua has always been for four years, I believe there was an effort to change the term to two years at one point, but it failed.
Perhaps, “If it ain’t broke, Nashua, don’t fix it.”
I suppose there are strong arguments on both sides. If you’re in it for a two-year term, then, in reality, you’re only getting about a year and a half to run the city. In other words, you are starting to build momentum, and in the last six months, you’re busy having to run again, which can be distracting. The honeymoon phase doesn’t last long for a two-year term.
To some, a four-year term is more sensible because you can focus to a greater degree on your goals, keep the consistency going and have more time to implement your strategy and see it to the end. For example, if there are major building projects, often these kinds of developments can take a few years to complete or even span two mayoral terms.
When Mayor Donchess announced his re-election campaign back in June, he addressed the media saying, “In the next four years, I want to continue the good work that we started.”
Some of those initiatives Donchess wants to expand on include creating more downtown housing, improving the general economic environment for the downtown business community, finding more ways to get a grip on the opioid problem, progressing on the Riverfront Master Plan, helping to beautify the Nashua River, proceeding with a district-wide middle school upgrade plan, estimated to cost about $80 million, etc.
By the way, Nashua’s Board of Aldermen is comprised of nine ward aldermen elected for a term of two years at every municipal election. There are six at-large aldermen elected for a term of four years, three of which are elected at each municipal election. I learned that at the city’s NashuaNH.Gov website.
Mayors will come, and mayors will go. But maybe a two-year term is just the right amount of time to bring fresh ideas to the table, to have the chance for a new leader to give it a shot and to get the voters to the polls and more engaged in the political process that affects their city.