The term limit discussion that wasn’t

It’s the term limit discussion that wasn’t meant to be.

An interesting bit of political maneuvering happened over the New Years break. On Wednesday the city released the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting. Included was a change to the city’s charter to alter the term limit rules. By the time Friday rolled around the item was removed and no one wanted to take credit for it being there in the first place.

The change had two parts. First, it would have closed a loophole that allows councilmen to switch posts and skirt term limits. Jim Paine took advantage of this in 2010. But most importantly, the change added to the number of terms someone could serve.

Term limits for councilmen would have increased from three to four terms under the proposed change. The mayor’s term limit would extend from two to four terms. At four years per term that’s sixteen years in office or perhaps longer if a councilman first ran for an unexpired term. Run for mayor afterward and a person could conceivably hold office for decades. Combine these incumbent advantages with Alpharetta’s archaic plurality voting rule and newcomers to public service would face a horrendous headwind.

The obvious near-term beneficiary of this change would be DC Aiken. He’s finishing up the last year of his third term and would be ineligible to run for his post 6 seat. Aiken has also been a vocal critic of term limits calling them undemocratic. However Aiken denies asking the city attorney to draft the proposal that briefly made this appearance.

Perhaps this proposal will appear in a work session discussion but for now it’s gone. It’s still very perplexing why any elected official would want to discuss term limit extensions during an election year. Who knows what the gentlemen behind the dais were thinking on this one. Maybe the fear of one’s political mortality is finally setting in.

6 Responses to “The term limit discussion that wasn’t”

  1. Greg January 5, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    Maybe they’re just trying to follow the lead of their political counterparts in the city of Cumming

  2. JP January 5, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    DC Aiken figures that there’s going to be a construction boom in Alpharetta for the next 5-7 years till the next recession hits. He wants as many back room “exclusive lender” deals in his pocket as possible – trading off zoning approvals for exclusive lender contracts.

  3. CDL January 5, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    Interesting thought JP – term limits seems like a good requirement to keep bureaucrats from acquiring too much power to pursue their own personal and financial agenda rather than the common interest of the taxpayers.

  4. Kim January 6, 2015 at 12:32 am #

    Should not the public be voting on a change in the city charter/constitution rather than politicians with a vested interest?

  5. Julie January 10, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    What? Hmm. My guess is it will re-appear. When you’re in the midst of a Really Big Project, you have a certain energy, tailwind, etc.. There is no doubting that it IS disruptive to break the mojo, energy, conviviality with a nasty little end to your term. I really do get that. But, you start playing with the “I am the ruler of my kingdom” mentality the more time you have. We all see this demonstrated corporately where it is perfectly acceptable because of profit motive and the ability to remove that CEO on the spot if profits begin to slide. Obviously, the comparison breaks down when you compare corporations to elected officials because supposedly there is no profit motive with elected officials and furthermore, they can’t be removed so easily……
    No, the beauty of term limits is that, as ineffective as it may be with regard to certain tailwinds and Really Big Projects, it is democratic.
    But yea, you’ll probably see that item re-appear in the dusty little corner of an agenda one day.

  6. Tom January 12, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    Aren’t the current Councilmen grandfathered with the current law, so a change in term limits wouldn’t affect them?

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