Term-Limit Measure to Be on Fall Ballot

Voters once again will have the chance to set term limits for local officials--this time for real.

More than 80% of the city's voters said yes in 1992 to an advisory measure limiting terms for city office. But state law at the time allowed only specially chartered cities to set binding term limits on officials.

A change in that law took effect New Year's Day, and the City Council wasted no time in voting to put a measure on the Nov. 5 ballot. The proposal would limit council members to two consecutive four-year terms. Mayors, who are independently elected, would be able to sit for three consecutive two-year terms.

Mayors and council members would have to wait two years before running for office again after expiration of their terms.

City Atty. Robert O. Franks said he will word the measure specifically to prohibit officials from getting around the law by switching seats. A mayor who has served three terms still would have to wait two years before running for a council seat, for example.

The new law gives the mayor and all sitting council members a fresh start. Cities are not permitted to apply the term limits retroactively, Franks said.

Councilman Mike Spurgeon, who has been a strong advocate of term limits, asked the city attorney to word the ballot proposal as simply as possible. Measures in the past have been too complicated, he said.

"I don't want to confuse the voters," he said. "I want to make sure they know what they're voting for."

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