For The Recorder
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- A referendum set to appear on ballots in the town of Amsterdam Nov. 5 will seek to change the term of the town supervisor from two years to four.
"I have always felt that a new person coming in, they barely get to know the job and then they have to start running again," said Thomas DiMezza, Amsterdam's town supervisor, who is currently serving his seventh two-year term. He is running unopposed in this year's election. "It just gives you more time to get familiar with the office, to get things done, to learn the budget process, to learn the finances of the town. There's so much that goes on. And I've always said for a new person coming in, their head is going to spin."
DiMezza also pointed out that most other town employees, including the town clerk, the assessors, the town council members and the town justices all have four-year terms.
"I'm the only person in the town that has a two-year term," DiMezza said.
As for the rest of the town supervisors in Montgomery County, all have two-year terms except for the supervisors of Glen, Mohawk and Canajoharie.
"If someone was running and there was a new election every two years, it would make it very difficult for the [new] person," said Dominick Stagliano, who has served eight two-year terms as the town supervisor in St. Johnsville and is now running for county executive.
Mohawk town Supervisor Gregory Rajkowski, who is currently ending his first four-year term but is not seeking re-election, agrees that the two-year term could make the job more difficult.
"If you are a new supervisor, the first year you come in, just like any job, you have to learn the different tasks," he said. "The second year you're much more comfortable with it, but then you would have to run again after the second year."
"[If] you get defeated, well now the process starts all over again with a new supervisor after only two years."
Rajkowski added that with a four-year term, a person might be more comfortable being productive and proactive to "start looking for ways to help out the town."
This referendum has been on the ballot three times in the past eight years, according to DiMezza.
"A two-year term is short, but it's historical. And somehow or another people like their opportunity to ballot," Stagliano said as a possible reason the referendum may not have passed before.
"I have always felt that the reason why it never passed before ... it was always in a bad place. The referendums that have always been on the ballot have always been way up high. They don't look at the top of the ballots," said DiMezza.
DiMezza hopes that the more recent paper ballot system will make the referendum more visible to voters, unless it is on the back of the ballot as was the referendum for the county charter.
"If they're on the back," he said, "I think it will be another disadvantage."