Last night’s council meeting

Here are my personal notes from last night:

Secondhand dealers legislation – Stow wants to catch more thieves. For that reason, our police chief and law director proposed an amendment to our regulation of dealers of secondhand goods. It doesn’t require much “street knowledge” to be aware that thieves often cash in by taking their bounty to a pawn shop or merchant of secondhand goods. This legislation would require all merchants of jewelry, electronics, coins, and furniture to make an electronic report of their secondhand purchases within one day of a sale, and submit it to the LEADS system. The reports would include the seller’s driver’s license and a photo of the item sold. Akron and Barberton currently have this same requirement.

Generally speaking, my philosophy is that regulations are usually well-meaning, but often do not consider the costs associated with their benefit. People focus on the “hard” taxes (i.e., income taxes, sales taxes), but often miss the fact that a government has soft taxes, in the form of the time and wages of a business owner and her employees who are forced to comply with regulations. … Last night, I asked that this legislation be held until we can reach out to all of the 12 or so merchants who would be affected, and obtain their input. We will resume the discussion only after the costs to these stakeholders are considered.

Primary elections – This November, Stow voters will have the chance to kill primary elections. The discussion began in December, when I proposed moving our primary elections from September to May, because I believe our September primary hinders the overseas military vote and because a September primary is substantially more expensive than a May primary. Matt Riehl then raised the idea of killing primaries altogether, arguing that any dollar spent on primaries is money that instead could be used on repairing roads, employing police, etc.

The most recent 5 primary elections have cost Stow taxpayers in excess of $120K. Three of them only served to eliminate 1 candidate. In these primaries, voter turnout was between 4% and 5.5%. Matt says there are 19 communities in Summit County that do not have primaries. He adds that eliminating primary elections will shorten the campaign window (i.e., fewer months of campaign literature and yard signs).

I voted in favor of Matt’s idea last night (it was a 6-0 vote), although I don’t quite have an answer to the potential problem of electing a mayor with only a fraction of the vote. If Matt’s charter amendment fails in November, then there is still time for council to decide whether to move the primary from September to May, and I would re-introduce my legislation at that point. In either scenario, the first election to be affected would be 2019. Oh, and in 2019, we will elect a new mayor and term limits will empty council of all but one member (Adaska, Ward 4).

Next meeting – Council will meet next on May 11.