Debate continues on council, mayor term limits

Posted 4/6/22

The debate on whether the City Council should seek General Assembly approval to put council and mayoral term limits on the ballot this fall will wait until April 18.

Originally the resolution …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Debate continues on council, mayor term limits


The debate on whether the City Council should seek General Assembly approval to put council and mayoral term limits on the ballot this fall will wait until April 18.

Originally the resolution asked that five consecutive two year terms be on the ballot for the Council and two consecutive four year terms for the Mayor.

On Monday the Council voted 4-4 on an amendment to extend the lengths of terms for the Council to three consecutive four year terms. Ward 4 Councilman Jim McElroy wasn’t able to make the meeting. Instead of voting on the original resolution it was decided to hold the debate at the next meeting.

On Wednesday Mayor Frank Picozzi said he strongly opposes four year terms for member of the council and if that appeared on the ballot he would campaign against it.

In an interview Tuesday morning McElroy, who has essentially become the swing vote on the issue, said he would listen to both sides before making a decision. He said he was okay with the Council debating and voting on the resolution without him being present, and would’ve been okay with the outcome either way.

“At the next meeting I will carefully listen to everyone's arguments and I will make my decision then,” said McElroy.

Ward 8 Councilman Anthony Sinapi who proposed the amendment said he favors term limits but by having it for four years it will be in line with the terms for the mayor and school committee. It was pointed out by Sinapi that by not having any term limits those elected could ultimately serve the rest of their lives.

“You have to look no further than Congress,” said Sinapi.

Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix said that he isn’t in favor of term limits saying “the people's ability to select its representatives, and, weakens the legislative branch's abilities to fulfill its duties by causing us to lose institutional knowledge and creating perverse incentives.”

“This issue deserves much more thought and debate as it is consequential in limiting The people's choices for who appears on the ballot,” said Rix. “ It especially deserves more discussion as demonstrated by the apparent overlooking of the School Committee - which is arguably more powerful than the Council as the School Committee has both executive and legislative powers and controls a larger budget than the Council - and, as there may be more effective means to address the concerns that this resolution may be trying to address.”

Noting that it is similar to what other cities have for term limits, Ayrassian said that the mayor also supports the originally proposed five consecutive two year terms.

Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur thinks four year terms is the best way to do it, saying that he doesn’t think members of the council only will connect with constituents during elections.

“ I don’t think there is any member of this City Council that needs an election cycle to be out there with their constituents,” said Ladouceur.

Ladouceur said that with the elections every two years it means campaigns more often. He said that he would rather have more time doing the work that he was elected to do.

“I don’t need campaign signs every two years. I don't need to be banging on people’s doors every two years,” said Ladouceur.

Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis who has served the longest on the Council said that “four years would be so much better than two years.”

Travis, like Rix, agreed that the first term for council members is a learning experience and two years comes quickly for the next election.

“It's non-stop,” said Travis.

Ward 9 Councilman Vincent Gebhart favors  two year council  terms.

Gebhart said that compared to the Mayor or School Committee the amount of people each council member represents is much less. He also views having elections every two years as a good thing because it pushes them out into the community.

Ward 3 Councilman Tim Howe said from a citizen's perspective that he thinks a two year term for the council is good.

Council President Steve McAllister said he was for two year terms for the council along with Ward 1 Councilman Bill Foley.

Former School Committee Chair Jane Austin told the Council she supports extending the term for the mayor from two to four years but didn’t agree with having term limits for the nine members of the council.

“I’m not a fan of term limits,” said Austin.

Austin said that it is important to have people on the council with experience saying that she thinks that the loss of institutional memory is something that shouldn’t be sacrificed.

If a version of the resolution is approved by the council it will then goes to the General Assembly that will need to approve it for it to appear on the November ballot.

On Wednesday Picozzi said that he is opposed to four year council terms and said he would campaign against that if it gets on the ballot.  He favors two four-year terms for mayor and a maximum of four two year terms for council. He said the council is a "part-time legislature" and countered the argument that it takes them two years to learn the job, saying "it took me one day to learn the job to be mayor."

As McElroy put it, those who cast their votes in November will have the final say on term limits.

“It's going to be the voters that decide what it should be,” said McElroy.

term limits, debate


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here