June 23, 2008
Term limits on the ballot in San Antonio

Earlier this year, I noted that San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger, in his second and final two-year term, announced in his State of the City address that he wanted to change San Antonio's restrictive term limits law. He has now succeeded in getting an initiative on the ballot to do that.

It took the better part of two hours of debate before the council unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance that will put the proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Most of the speakers, council members and members of the public said it was for the good of the citizens that the current limit of two two-year years terms be expanded to four two-year terms. They said that keeping the two years reelection time table would still allow voters to dump an incumbent who was not performing up to his or her constituents' standards.


The mayor, who for months has been lining up the full council to take the step, stressed that this is not an effort to overturn the voter's wishes and that term limits will still be part of the city charter.

The language that will appear on the November ballot takes up one sentence, although it is a rather long one. And in possibly the only surprise, it will apply to current as well as former council members.

That means, for example, that if the proposition passes -- and the mayor is betting about $750,000 worth of a publicity campaign that it will -- former Councilwoman Elena Guajardo, who was defeated after one term, would be able to serve one more term, if she were to decide to run again.

That penultimate paragraph is a bit unclear. I think what it's saying, based on the subsequent graf, is that the current two-term limit law will remain in force for former Council members as well as current ones, so that no one who has been elected to their Council can take advantage of the extra allowable terms. That seems reasonable enough.

I'll be rooting for this to pass, and if it does, I hope it will spur someone in Houston to take a crack at changing our term limits law as well. Good luck, Mr. Mayor. Rhetoric & Rhythm has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 23, 2008 to Election 2008