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Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett successfully campaigned for his second term last fall, in part by saying the city was moving ahead on the right track.

Two months into the new term, Bennett says he still has no dramatic plans to overhaul city government, but he is hoping to make some less obvious changes.

He hopes to revisit past proposals about updating the city charter, as well as considering passage of a code of conduct for elected and appointed officials.

“We will probably start talking about that at our next work session, trying to get some discussion,” he said.

The next work session is set for Jan. 20. The next council meeting is Jan. 11.

In early 2009, Bennett and the previous city council reviewed a series of wholesale charter changes suggested by a citizen charter review committee, with input from City Manager Doug Miller.

Some of those proposals included raising the mayor’s salary $15,000, from $10,000 to $25,000 a year, and raising the salaries of the council members $2,500 from $7,500 to $10,000 a year.

Another called for lengthening the terms of office for the mayor and council members from two to four years, while also lowering the residency requirement to run for mayor or city council from two years to one.

One of the more substantive changes proposed in the city administration would have increased the power of the city manager vis-à-vis the council.

Because last year was an election year, the charter review eventually bogged down. Some council members weren’t sold on approving raises. One wanted to first submit the longer term amendment to the voters. In the end, none of the proposed changes were voted upon.

Bennett said the idea of a code of conduct had come up before but was thrown off course by “a lot of political games.”

The concept was originally raised in the summer of 2008. It has similarities to one of the charter changes.

The proposed code would have required officials to deal with administrative services solely through the mayor or city manager and would have forbidden them from retaliating or threatening to retaliate against employees as a result of disagreements over policy recommendations.

The rules also would have forbidden officials from threatening city employees with disciplinary action and only bringing any concerns about job performance to the city manager.

The mayor would have been exempt from certain rules, such as one forbidding officials from attempting to reorganize an employee’s priorities or influencing how they perform their duties.

Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young had said at the time she was in support of it and Bennett had explained it was based on documents from several municipalities similar in size to Aberdeen.

“We are just going to be pretty busy with those kinds of things,” Bennett said about the code and charter. In the most recent election, two of the four council seats changed hands, so newcomers Sandy Landbeck and Bruce Garner would be taking up both matters for the first time. Young and Ruth Elliott are holdover council members.

Other than the charter and code of conduct, Bennett said he is just busy working with the new council, which includes two newly-elected members.

He said he does not have any plans for the department heads or city management but wants to continue to build on past successes.

“It’s my vision to continue to build our economic base in the town,” he said, reaffirming his support for prioritizing commercial development over residential.

“We will deal with any residential things that come along, but they don’t drive what we are doing,” Bennett said.

In general, he added, “things are running very nicely now and we are going to keep them going. I have been trying to focus on customer service and how people that do business with the city are treated.”

“Management is in place,” he said. “We are not going to change a whole lot there right now.”

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