Millroy on Term Limits for Municipal Councillors

Tom Mills, writing in The Sault Star, raised an interesting scenario this week – term limits for members of our city council.
It is not a new thought in regard to the Sault. Ward 5 Coun. Frank Fata, who is running for a fourth term, raised it in a media release carried by saultonline during the 2014 election campaign.
But it didn’t get any legs because Fata never brought up the issue once he got re-elected.
Considering he is running again four years later, that is probably why.
Despite its merits, the suggestion by Mills probably won’t go anywhere either. After all, you won’t find many members of a city council who want to vote to curtail their own political careers.
I thought this was obvious when the present council voted to cut back from 12 councillors to two covering five wards instead of six  for the upcoming civic election.
If they had really been serious, they would have cut to eight councillors covering four wards.
Mills suggests the best limit would be two terms but he could live with three.
“With municipal elections now falling four years apart in Ontario, that would give a politician up to eight or 12 years to implement all of those bright ideas she or he introduced during the campaign,” he said..
“Surely that’s ample time. Does someone who needs more than eight or 12 years to get some goal accomplished really deserve to hold office?”
Fata in his release said, “We have many young, intelligent, creative and thought-provoking citizens in this great city and we must find a way to give them an opportunity to take charge and lead. Councillors serving in their 4th, 5th and 6th terms on council must, I believe, step aside and let this next generation take charge.”
He suggested a limit of three terms on council would be a fair and reasonable period.
“If someone thinks their mission in life is to be on council, then they could come back and try again after a four-year hiatus,” he said..
I think Mills and Fata are on to something but I am not sure Fata, since he is running again, remembers what it is.
Anyway, right off I will say that my choice would be three terms. The only way a councillor putting in three terms could run again would be if it were for the position of  mayor.
This is not to say that I believe all councillors are just spinning their wheels after three terms. Heck, some never get beyond spinning their wheels. It is just to ensure that our council is always healthy and fresh.
Years ago the big thing was to get elected. Once that happened, through name recognition when it came to the next and future elections, I suspect, a councillor was in like Flynn, defeat almost unheard of.
That is how we had councillors such as Walter Chisholm, Mike Sanzosti and Frank Manzo put in 30-plus years on council.
In one election, one newcomer to the scene told me an incumbent said to him when he was putting up his signs, “Why are you bothering. We always go back anyway.”
Usually, yes, but this time he was wrong.
This was the election that took place after what had become known as the CAO affair, when then-mayor Joe Fratesi retired then-CAO Alan Jackson and pushed and acquiescent council into giving him the job.
The electorate, unhappy with the shenanigans that had taken place, voted out six of the eight councillors who supported Fratesi and it would have been seven except one didn’t run again. A councillor who sat on the sidelines because of his business relationship with Fratesi was also defeated.
But in most elections there is not such a clear-cut issue to help voters in making their decision.
A poll in Toronto last year showed that 56% of voters favoured capping the number of terms a councillor could serve. Only 29% voted no to term limits and 15% said they didn’t know.
In 2013 Toronto Councillors Mary-Margaret McMahon and Jaye Robinson proposed a three-term limit on councillors, saying in a motion to council, “Toronto must investigate if limiting the length of time Councillors and the mayor can remain in office will make Toronto’s government more reflective of the demographics and political aspirations of this City’s residents.”
Council voted down the idea.
It surfaced in Calgary last year but suffered the same result in a testy debate and vote in January of this year.
Several councillors raised concerns about comments made in the media, and in the chamber, that were construed as personal attacks on some of council’s long-serving members.
This was a thought not lost on Fata.
“I don’t want anyone out there to take this personally but if you do, that’s your prerogative,” he said. “There’s no ill intent by me.”
I guess not, considering he is now one of those he was complaining about.
With Ward One Coun. Steve Butland retiring, the only councillor who fits Fata’s description now would be Lou Turco, running in his sixth election. He served five terms in Ward 4 but with the cutback to 10 wards from 12, this time he is running in Ward 2.
I am all for term limits but I think there has to be a method developed for getting the information out on the background of the newcomers seeking election. It is fine to say that those seeking office should get the information out themselves and also that voters bear some responsibility as well in seeking out the information.
But I believe it would help if some locations for the information, such as an Internet site and in public libraries, could be set up so that the background and stands of the various candidates could be readily accessible.
Otherwise advantage-incumbent will always be there…


  1. I strongly encourage anyone in my ward to call me 24/7 as I will try my best to be available to anyone at any time. I also would like to add I am all for term limits, I think 8 years is a long enough time to make some progress and if you can’t well then you need to step aside and let someone new have a chance.

  2. Although I do not always agree with Mr. Millroy’s perspective, I will say I do agree to term limits in that council members, as a whole, as stewards of our city also have a social obligation to inspire and mentor our younger generation. It is only by doing so that we can ensure that those that seek office are well equipped to take over from the older generation.

    As stewards we are responsible for providing a city that will be here long after we are gone. We should not be depending on one or two said favorite councillors to seek us through all our bumps in the road.

  3. I think 10 years is plenty for any politician.

    I’d like to see 10 year term limits.

    When a council member’s term ends in the 2nd year election cycle, as it will, we can have by-elections which will raise all of the important issues in the middle of a term of council. That will really help City Council get important feedback. We can also get a 2 year look at the newly elected by-election winner(s) to see if they are worthy of re-election.

    If the next City Council enacted a 10-year Term Limit By-Law in 2019, or early 2020, then all city council members with 10 consecutive years or more on as of Oct. 22nd, 2020 would have to vacate their seat, and by-elections would be held to replace them.

    That would only affect Frank Fata, Marchy Bruni, and Lou Turco if they are successful in their re-election bids.

    • Oh yeah, and Paul Christian too if he is successful in his re-election bid in this election.

      Of course those four would have to declare a conflict of interest in any 10-Year Term Limit By-Law votes and discussions because it would be a certainty that all of them would lose their honorarium in year three and four of the next term of council (if they get elected this time around that is).

  4. There is one drawback to limiting a council member to the amount of terms he/she can serve and that is that if you get a good one, Hasta La Vista Baby, and the city suffers, although on this council you can count that number on a hand that doesn’t have all its fingers.
    Some have become too complacent, are afraid to question Staff for fear of being rejected by them on future issues, and have become so arrogant that they think running in an election is just a waste of time and an added expense because they are going to get elected anyway.
    In my ward, Ward 3, I see two candidates that deserve to be elected to council. They are Shoemaker and Hillsinger. Shoemaker has proven himself as a councillor by questioning Staff on every issue that he thinks won’t benefit the city and Hillsinger, although she has never run for council, has been involved with Business matters for years and knows the inner workings of business and profit and loss. She is also a tireless worker as proven by her past. She cares about our city and its future.
    I promised that I would air who I think should be elected, so here it is:
    Ward One: Paul Christian and Don Mitchell
    Ward Two: Lisa Vezeau-Allen and Luke Dufour
    Ward Four: Marchy Bruni and Rick Niro
    Ward Five Frank Fata and Matthew Scott
    Before you vote, do your homework. Listen to what they all have to say, how they say it, and try and be a good judge of character. Then and only then, mark your X on the ballot. Don’t vote for just anyone just to be able to say, “I voted.”

    • All city council members who have ever been elected have been good. It takes a lot of work, and personal and family sacrifice to be a city council member.

      We all think that some city council members are better than others because we all value different things. For example, Barry Morris and I want people who call us back right away, whereas Mike Caruso indicates that he thinks that staff questioners, and business people are the best. Everybody values different things in their representatives.

      The question is what do YOU value?

      If you value getting called back right away then call all of your Ward Candidates and Mayoral Candidates , and see HOW FAST THEY GET BACK TO YOU(the candidate that is- NOT their helpers).

      And if you value something else in a representative then CALL THEM, and ask them questions about the thing(s) you value. It’s YOUR VOTE, and that way you’ll KNOW who to vote for.

      Get the candidates’ phone numbers here:

      Do ONLY THAT and you will have done PLENTY of research.

    • All city council members who have ever been elected have been good.

      It takes a lot of work, personal and family sacrifice, and time each and every day to be a city council member. You can’t be a city council member without being good.

      We all have our opinion of who we think is good. Mike Caruso has his choices because he thinks questioning staff, and business experience are good. Barry Morris and I think that getting called back right away is good. Good means something different to everybody.

      The question is: What do YOU think is good?

      It’s YOUR VOTE, and you get to decide who is good. For whatever reason. There are no good reasons, only your reasons, and they’re as valid as anybody else’s. You can vote for anybody, and it will be a good vote.

      If you want to do some research I find that the best research is to CALL YOUR CANDIDATES.

      You’ll find out which candidates call back right away, and you’ll be able to talk to each candidate about the things YOU WANT for YOUR VOTE. You have something they want. Make them earn it.

      Just CALL THEM, and you’ll know who to vote for.

      Johnston, Ted: 705-206-5995
      Martinovic, Kemal: 705-975-1303
      Provenzano, Christian: 705-949-5411
      Ring, Rory: 705-989-4804

      WARD 1
      Christian, Paul: 705-946-3619
      Hollingsworth, Sandra: N/A
      McCleave-Kennedy, Michele: N/A
      Mitchell, Don: 705-759-1488
      Pearce, Derek: 705-297-7847

      WARD 2
      Cistaro, Sam: 705-989-5019
      Dufour, Luke: 705-257-2992
      Hallin, Ted: 705-946-5029
      Thyne, D.J.: 705-575-4475
      Turco, Lou: 705-253-4070
      Vezeau-Allen, Lisa: 705-206-4909
      Young, Jason: 705-542-9864

      WARD 3
      Bruno, John: 705-256-9214
      Hilsinger, Donna: 705-945-7632
      Hupponen, Judy: 705-975-4389
      Hutchinson, Winona: 705-542-4047
      Shoemaker, Matthew: N/A

      WARD 4
      Bruni, Marchy: 705-949-9187
      Marsh, Tim: 705-943-0477
      McCleary, Sara: 705-297-1868
      Niro, Rick: 705-949-7750

      WARD 5
      Fata, Frank: 705-942-6630
      Gardi, Corey: N/A
      Grandinetti, Ozzie: 705-941-1056
      Scott, Matthew: 705-257-8576

      • MAB, there is only one thing that I disagree with you on. I think that you might be a little naïve about thinking that all councillors are good. How about the one that is only there for himself. You call that being a self server, and that my friend, is not a good thing.

      • Thanks Mike, but we’ll have to agree to disagree.

        And I should also have added that all candidates who have ever run for city council are good too.

        To offer yourself up to serve your neighbours like that, and expose your ideas, yourself and your family to the type of public scrutiny that goes along with attempting to serve your community is nothing short of heroic IMHO.

        Although we may disagree with their ideas and/or methods, every candidate and council member deserves our respect and attention.

        They have all earned that simply by putting their names forward to serve us.


    • Mike I would like to point out in ward 3 Winona Hutchinson, She has to me stood out in this election both in calling to question actions of current ward councilors in ward 3 pointing to poor stewardship and engaged the public with respect to the Pine, Pleasant movement to have lights installed at that intersection.
      She has one of my votes as it is…still need to be sold for my other vote.

    • Okay Mike…I’m calling you out on this…Grab your camera and do an interview with Winona Hutchinson. You say get all information but I bet you have never taken the time to engage her in conversation…lead by example dude!

  5. Incumbents always seem to get re-elected ….for many reasons. In many cases it is not that they are doing such a great job…it is more that they have a recognizable name…or voters do not know the new people trying to win the seat etc.
    For that reason I am in favour of term limits…3 terms and you are out.

  6. Frank Fata doesn’t make the rules, he just plays by them.

    City council makes the rules, and quite obviously they don’t agree with councillor Fata on term limits.

    To me it’s better to have Frank Fata on city council pushing and voting for term limits than having him retire right now and make a sacrificial lamb of himself over a role that doesn’t even exist. Especially because when you call or email Frank Fata he’s right there for you getting your problem fixed, and when he talks at city council he speaks with an everyman voice letting council know what he’s been hearing in the street through his excellent constituency work.

    Trust me, I know, Frank Fata is my city councillor and every time I’ve called or emailed he’s responded immediately.

    Mark Brown

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