Council Member Andrew Burks proposed to double the six-year term limit for council members. He also suggested lengthening the terms from two years to four. Although CM Burks provided some valid points, like saving money in election costs and promoting a long-term vision for the city, the Committee on Ethics, Elections, and Council Governance ultimately voted against the measure. They basically said that the timing of this just isn’t right.
CM Burks seemed to take the defeat as a personal attack, saying that CM Stephen Costello “‘said the word, he used k-i-l-l. That upset me. Why would you want to kill something that we need to fix? He’s trying to be mayor.’” CM Burks also disapproved of the influence of lobbyists on council members under the current term limit system. I disagree with his assumption that increasing the terms and years in office will somehow decrease the amount of lobbyist control. Longer terms could also mean that council members have longer to foster unbreakable bonds with lobbyists who will ultimately fund their winning campaign. CM Burks, who won after his 13th try at office, should know that better than most. Just about every year someone proposes to either change the term limits or to study its implications, but it never has enough votes from council to put it on the ballot. According to a study in 2010, voters support term limits, and although they are willing to change the length of each term, voters are likely to agree that six years is enough time for elected officials in Houston.