Last night a City Council ad hoc subcommittee approved changes that were supported by other councilors in attendance. Councilors would make $25,000 instead of the current $15,000. School Committee stipends would rise from $6,000 to $12,000. The mayor, who serves on both boards, would make $30,000, compared to the present $21,000.
In another attempt to draw more serious candidates, another proposal is to increase to 150, from the current 50, the number of registered voters’ signatures needed to appear on the ballot.
In a time where the City budget is already tight, voting to raise your potential salary by $10,000 seems a little high and raising the required signatures to 150 seems to be more punitive than encouraging.
I wrote the below Post in February and still think it holds true today:
Endorsing upping Primary Total and salary adjustment for Elected Officials
The PERSONNEL SUBCOMMITTEE has a MEETING tonight at 5:30 to discuss these two motions.
(1) BY C. MERCIER/C. BELANGER
“City Council request City Council support home rule petition by way of the Constitution of special acts which allows us to raise the primary for a local election from 19 candidates to 25 candidates and the number of signatures from 50 to 100”.
(2) BY M. KENNEDY, seconded by C. Samaras “City Council request City Council considers salary adjustments for members of the City Council and School Committee”.
I’m in favor of both of these items.
(1) BY C. MERCIER/C. BELANGER – There is no reason we need to hold a preliminary with 19 candidate when by upping it to 25 it gives all candidates the same amount of time to raise money and to walk / work the neighborhoods. Why eliminate anyone when that person could spend the extra two months getting their message out? Why would it be wrong to let someone who wants their name on the ballot the opportunity to work and try to get people’s votes?
Asking candidates to get 100 signatures in a city the size of Lowell isn’t a hardship rather it is an opportunity for the candidate to meet the residents and get to hear from them. Raising it by 50 isn’t a punishment or a deterrent.
(2) BY M. KENNEDY – After watching these elected officials for the past few years, I understand better the amount of time most of these people give to their positions. It just isn’t a weekly or bi-weekly meeting it is sub-committee meetings, neighborhood meetings, constituent phone calls and follow ups , interviews for Supt. or Manager , appearing on City Life, WCAP, meeting with the SUN or returning a call or email from that pesky Lowell Curmudgeon. The job isn’t just about the time spend doing the job.
It is about the sacrifice the family makes, not usually being home for all celebrations, dances etc but not being home for a simple Thursday night dinner or a basketball game or a science fair at your children’s school.Not be able to go to the park, your kids school, to Winterfest etc. with your family without one or two or ten people wanting to just have a minute to tell you / ask you something.
Not to mention that every school, Non-Profit, Veteran , Civic , Religious and community service businesses and corporations wants you to attend an event, or make a donation or buy an ad or buy tickets for this or that.
Your time is valuable, it is short and if you choose to share it in my opinion you should receive a fair compensation for your willingness to serve. Especially now in a time of social media where everyone with computer access has an opinion on what you are not doing, should be doing, could be doing, are supposed to be doing or want you to do for them.
Yes the candidate or elected official knows (or think they know) what they are getting into and there is the case of being a public servant but in reality the amount of demand for your time, your money and your attention is much more than what many know or think.
The last time an elected official in Lowell received a raise was in 2000 , I’d be in favor of raising a Councilor from $15,000 to $18,000 – A School Committee member from $7,000 to $10,000 – and the Mayor from $20,000 up to $25,000 which over a 16 year period isn’t a huge % and it recognizes the value of public service and those willing to serve.