Duluth Council Ponders Term Limits

Also, the elected officials discuss abolishing runoff elections.

Marsha Anderson Bomar, left. (Credit: Steve Burns.)
Marsha Anderson Bomar, left. (Credit: Steve Burns.)
Updated, 6:57 a.m.

It's still in the discussion phase, but Duluth City Council members seem receptive to the idea of establishing term limits for council members.

Council member Marsha Anderson Bomar, who took the oath of office Monday (Jan. 27) for her third term, instigated the discussion at a council work session.

Bomar noted that she intends for this term to be her last. "If I stayed longer, I might be tired," she said. "If I knew I had an end coming, I might dig in and work harder. ... It's a subject we need to address."

Establishing term limits would require amending the city charter, which is something that has to be done by the Georgia General Assembly, and then signed into law by the governor. So the council members likely would have to act on the matter this year, in order for legislation to be approved in time for the next Duluth elections in 2015.

There was plenty of support from other council members. "Things can get stale if you don't have fresh blood," said Greg Whitlock.

However, the term limit sentiment does not extend to the mayor's position. "The mayor is involved in a different way," Bomar noted.

Bomar also suggested that Duluth eliminate runoff elections, which would mean that a council member could win an election by plurality, or simply by receiving more votes than other opponents.

She noted that turnout for the 2013 runoff elections in Duluth was far lower than in the general election, but still required city resources.

Eliminating runoffs also would require the Duluth charter to be amended, which would require General Assembly action.

City officials likely will undertake an effort to gain public feedback about these proposed changes.

Earlier in January, council members Billy Jones and Jim Dugan took their oaths of office for their new terms. Also, Kelly Kelkenberg has been voted mayor pro tem by council members.

-- Do you think Duluth should adopt term limits for council members? What about eliminating runoff elections? Tell us in the comments below.

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DavidE January 28, 2014 at 01:57 PM
Instead of eliminating run-off elections, change our city elections to be in line with Federal elections. This will eliminate the need for off year elections and resources. It will also provide for a higher turnout for city elections. I would think that 2 consecutive terms should be the max, you would have to sit out 1 term before running again.


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