Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 17, 2014

Recall, term limits to go on ballot

CROSSVILLE — Following votes by the Crossville City Council, citizens will have a chance to vote on changes to the city charter that could add provisions for recall and term limits for city council members.

The council ratified both Tennessee General Assembly private acts authorizing the two referendum questions during the regular June council meeting. The vote on the recall provision was unanimous while councilman George Marlow voted against the ratification of putting the term limit question on the ballot, with the remainder of the council voting in favor of the action.

A series of routine changes to the charter because of changes to state law were also approved by the state legislature and the city council. Those changes will go into effect immediately and not be subject to a referendum vote.

Term limits for council members, if approved by a majority of voters in the Nov. 4 city election, would limit a councilman to serve no more than two consecutive terms, for a total of eight years in office. A person could run for office again as long there is a break between service. If the referendum passes, any council members elected or reelected in the November election would be starting the eight years' time limit once sworn in.

The motion to ratify term limits, chapter 54 of the city charter, was made by Mayor J.H. Graham III and seconded by Councilman Pete Souza.

Souza remarked, “When I ran for office, one of the questions I was most often asked was 'are you for term limits?' I have had a lot of people come to me and tell me they want term limits. In a perfect world, we don't need term limits, where the voters get in there and just eliminate the people that aren't the right person for the job. But we don't live in a perfect world and, once you get in office, you certainly have an advantage.”

Souza clarified the council's action at the meeting, saying, “We're not approving term limits. We are ratifying this for the public to vote on it. I believe it is very important to present this to the public and let them make a decision on this.”

Graham spoke next, saying, “Although I don't agree in all terms on term limits, I do support and have made the motion to let the people decide.”

Councilman Danny Wyatt agreed, saying “I don't agree with this but I do agree with everybody doing a referendum on as many things as they can. I'm going to be against this in November and I'm going to vote against it, and here's why. Eight years from this November, you've got a councilman in there, and he's your favorite councilman and he's done a great job. You just took him out of your hands if you approve this. And that's what an election is. It gives you the right to send home or send back whoever you want to.”

Councilman George Marlow had previously stated his opinion on the matter during a work session, saying he felt the action, if approved, would take away a citizen's privilege to vote for who they want in office. Marlow added, “I feel the voters should determine how long someone stays in office and, if they're not satisfied with someone, they can vote them out.”

The vote was called and four of the council members voted in favor of approving holding the referendum, with Marlow voting against.

Council members unanimously ratified the provision to put a recall measure referendum on the November city ballot.

The recall provision, if approved by voters in the November referendum, would require 33 percent of all registered city voters sign a petition requesting to have a recall vote put on the ballot. The recall vote must receive 66 percent of the votes cast for the council member to be removed.

If a council member is removed by recall or resigns after a recall petition is filed against them, they are not eligible to run again for city office or be appointed within two years. Also, a recall petition may not be filed during the first year or the last 6 months of an elected official's term.

A rewrite of the Crossville city charter to bring the charter in line with current state laws and other minor changes was also approved by the city council. These changes are described as routine and go into effect without a referendum by voters.

The charter rewrite was approved unanimously by the council.

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