Earlier this year, the Tacoma City Council voted to put the question of throwing out term limits to voters. With elections around the corner, we thought it would be interesting to learn more about how the council and mayor came to their decision. Here is what Councilman Mike Lonergan had to say.
Sun: How did you vote (on the term limit resolution) and how did you arrive at your decision?
Lonergan: I voted against placing the extension of City Council term limits on the ballot. I did so because NO citizen came forward asking me to allow them to vote on this matter, and many told me they did not wish to spend tax money to put it on the ballot. While serving on the Appointments Committee, I noted that we had a dozen applicants to write the Voters’ Pamphlet statement against this proposition, and only one person applied to write the “pro” statement.
Sun: What are the advantages/disadvantages you see in repealing term limits?
Lonergan: Although it is possible to unseat an incumbent to win election to the City Council (I did it in 2001), it is difficult. Two terms is the limit for President of the United States, and it’s good enough for me.
Sun: Has your view on repealing term limits changed since passing the resolution?
Lonergan: My views have not changed. The one change in the Charter we should consider is to separate the two terms on the Council (actually 10 years, to allow for those appointed to fill out an unexpired term) from the two terms as Mayor. The Council is a possible place to look for potential Mayor, just as the U.S. Senate is a possible place to look for a President. So one should be able to run for Mayor after serving two terms on the Council.
All on the council were sent questionnaires. Only Mayor Baarsma and Councilman Lonergan responded.
See related story: Mayor Bill Baarsma Shares Thoughts on Term Limits