Term Limits Review Commission: Possible Recommendations

The Term Limits Review Commission, assigned by former Mayor Bill White before he left office, said that they expect a final vote on their recommendations to City Council by June 8.  After that, City Council could vote to put a proposition on the ballot to change our City Charter.  The Commission will consider “term extension, letting elected officials who reach the current limit of three two-year terms run again after a break, and staggering city elections so that the mayor, City Council and City Controller are not all elected at the same time” (see Houston Chronicle article here).

While I wouldn’t vote for it, increasing terms by one year probably wouldn’t change too much in our city (in which case, why do it?).  Staggering our elections so everyone isn’t up for reelection at the same times makes sense.  One suggestion that I hope is not recommended to City Council is to allow elected officials who reach the current limit of three two-year terms to run again after a break.  While I am not in favor of increasing terms, how is it any better to force someone to take a break before allowing them to come back?  Is it supposed to reduce their power somehow?  Former Mayor Bill White arguably has more power after leaving office when it comes to money and name recognition.  I am really curious to see what the panel says about this.  Of course, they might not recommend this to City Council at all.

Mayor Parker said that she is waiting for the panel’s decision before making up her mind about term limits.  Then she went on to say “‘I am not a supporter of term limits, I have never been a supporter of term limits and would like to see term limits at least modified or overturned’”.  I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like she has made up her mind.

If the panel recommends anything drastic to our current system, it is likely that Mayor Parker will put it on the agenda.  After that, it could really go either way with City Council.  It seems that many members are voting the way Mayor Parker hopes they will, despite their political party; however, with the anti-incumbency sentiment these days, it might be political suicide to vote to extend their own terms. 

Despite what the panel recommends, it will be up to City Council to decide what to put on the ballot, and it will up to us to vote.

Read my thoughts on term limits here, and read about a Review Commission meeting I attended here.

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