Erlanger Continues Discussions on Lowering Number of Council Members
The City of Erlanger has the largest elected municipal government in Northern Kentucky, with twelve members of city council and a mayor, and a population of about 18,000.
By comparison, the region's largest city, Covington, which uses the commission-manager form of government, and has a population of roughly 40,000, has a mayor and four city commissioners.
Resident Sarah Benedict attended the city council committee meeting last week to give her take on the issue, concluding that based on her research, the current size of council is correct.
She contended that the size of Erlanger city council allows for more accessibility to citizens, division of labor, variety on council, and limits personality domination.
Currently, there are two pairs of relatives on city council: Kathy Cahill and her son, Tom Cahill, and husband-and-wife Don and Renee Skidmore.
Councilman Tyson Hermes, who first proposed an exploration of a reduction in the number of council members, asked Benedict how many council members she voted for in the last election. Benedict said there was a problem with her being able to vote last time and she didn't cast a ballot.
Hermes thanked her for all her work. He told her that in his observation, with twelve members, there is opportunity for people to hide and do nothing, and with fewer people it would be less apparent to hide.
Hermes said there was variety, but that was not guaranteed, because there were people on council from the same family with the same name.
Renee Skidmore spoke up immediately, saying you can be related without having the same last name.
Kathy Cahill also interjected that Tom Cahill did not always agree with her.
Hermes said if there are fewer council members, candidates have to work harder to get elected, and he seemed to think they would be more dedicated if they had to work harder.
Councilman Don Niceley challenged other members to only be paid a dollar to do the job they are doing.
Councilwoman Patty Suedkamp immediately countered, "You don't take this job for the money. I have served the city for forty years in October. I love my community. I won't go anywhere if you reduce my pay, but I bet you'll run out the door!"
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor