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.