Earlier this year, the Tacoma City Council voted to put the question of throwing out term limits to voters. Now, with elections right around the corner, we thought it would be interesting to learn more about how the council and mayor came to their decision. Here is Mayor Bill Baarsma’s response:
I voted no. The reason is that major charter changes should go through a formal review process as provided for in the charter. During the review, there are extensive public hearings conducted by a citizens committee. The committee reports back to the council as to its recommendations pro and con. The council can then place measures on the ballot with proper vetting. This measure had no public hearing and will cost taxpayers between $100-130,000 to be placed on the ballot as a special measure for Tacoma only. It has been over 50 years since substantive charter amendments have been placed on the ballot without a formal review process. Is this the way we should be amending our city “constitution” — I think not. Instead, this proposal should have been placed on the ballot in 2004 with the other proposed measures that came from the charter review committee. It could have been debated properly and appropriately. By the way, I was on the 1973 charter review commission that first proposed term limits. I voted against it then and I am not keen on the idea today. But, the proper procedures were not followed, in my view. When they are not, measures of this kind strike the appearance of being self serving. I am voting no for those reasons.