Considering Term Limits

City council term limits are likely to be on the November ballot in one form or another. Mayor Bill White wants voters to decide if a permanent commission should be created to examine term limits. Laurie Johnson has more.

Under the city's current term limits the mayor and councilmembers serve for up to three two-year terms.

There's a lot of agreement that the limits should be changed. But opinions differ broadly on how to set new limits or whether to impose them at all.

Houston Mayor Bill White suggests amending the city's charter to create a sort of sunset commission that would examine term limits every ten years.

"Not to look at any particular — I don't have any predesigned conclusion — but just to examine how it's worked and what the practices are in other cities, to take public comments about it and to see if there's any recommendations I think is a good approach."

The mayor, who is himself term-limited, says one virtue of hardwiring a commission into the city charter means that future administrations wouldn't be able to micromanage the process.

"There's no secret agenda that I have other than to you know give the voters an opportunity, if there's a consensus by some diverse group of civic leaders to assess how term limits have performed and whether there should be modifications."

The goal is to address term limits after next year's census, but before the 2011 election. That's when Houston is expected to gain an additional two council seats. The mayor would like the new council to benefit from any changes made to the current system.

Houston voters approved the current term limits in 1991.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.


 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...