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No big changes coming to SeymourVoters decline to limit or increase First Selectman’s term

November 7, 2018

SEYMOUR-Voters rejected some major changes that could have impacted the length and term of future First Selectman as well as how the town’s budget is comprised and voted.

But after studying the results, Stephan Behuniak, a Democratic member of the Board of Selectman, said some of the results were confusing.

Particularly the 1,095 residents who voted against amending the town charter to correct grammar, spelling, terminology and outdated provisions of the document. The measure passed because 5,270 voted in favor of making the changes.

“How can anyone be against that?” Behuniak asked. “It astounds me.”

He also was surprised by the 3,732 voters who refused to eliminate the annual town meeting required before the budget can be sent to referendum. Only 1,571 approved the change.

“No one has shown up to that in years,” Behuniak said of the 50-voter requirement.

The vote to combine the municipal and board of education budget into one rather than leaving them separate on the referendum ballot was narrowly defeated by 3,168 to 3,154.

The hottest issue was expected to be increasing the first selectman’s term from two to four years but limiting the individual to three consecutive elections was endorsed this summer by First Selectman W. Kurt Miller. He crossed the aisle to side with Behuniak and Karen Stanek, both Democrats, in endorsing the proposal.

“From my personal perspective three four-year terms —12 years- is more than enough to accomplish what you set out to do,” Miller said at the time.

Apparently the voters did not agree. They voted 3,330 to 3,148 against the question.

Several Seymour residents shopping at the local Stop and Shop were surprised by this outcome Wednesday morning. However none would give their full names.

“I’m all in favor of term limits—here, Hartford and Washington,” said one man.

“I voted for the term limits,” said a woman, who identified herself only as Jan. “And I wanted the shorter term for the first selectman.”

Take that failed vote and combine it with the approval of a study to set term limits on all elected boards and you can imagine Behuniak’s confusion.

That study was approved by a 5,279 to 1,160.

Both Behuniak and Stanek have expressed concern that term limits on all elected board may create problems filling them..

“There are only so many people who have the experience and time to devote to Planning and Zoning, the Board of Finance or the Board of Education,” Behuniak said.

Another advisory vote to study a town manager form of government was defeated 3,277 to 3,030.

Town residents also refused to replace the town’s elected Planning and Zoning Commission with a board appointed by the first selectman. That vote was 4,067 against to 2,296 in favor.

“All seven selectmen and the nine members of the Charter Revision Commission thoroughly vetted out all these questions,” Behuniak said. “We were confident all would pass.”

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