Grapevine council accepts petitions for vote on term limits

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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GRAPEVINE -- The City Council accepted the results of a petition drive calling for term limits at its regular meeting Tuesday.

With more than 1,400 valid signatures, the petition orders the City Council to call a special election.

The signatures are an endorsement of an initiative that would establish a nine-year limit on mayor and council seats. If the signatures are verified as valid, voters could see the item on the ballot as early as May 11.

The council has until Feb. 5 to call the election next year.

Council members had little reaction to the 186 pages of petitions other than to say they would follow procedure.

"It's a process we need to go through," Councilman Roy Stewart said.

Councilman Mike Lease said city officials already have term limits in a way.

"It's called the election process," he said.

Councilman Chris Coy echoed his sentiments, saying that unsatisfied residents could always vote out anyone not meeting their needs.

The idea of term limits is unheard of in Grapevine, a city of 28,000 registered voters where incumbents have dominated elections for 30 years The current city charter has no term limits. Grapevine residents have gone door-to-door gathering signatures in an effort to have term limits decided in an election.

Mayor William D. Tate has served as Grapevine's mayor since 1973, with the exception of a three-year stint from 1985 to 1988. Councilwoman Sharron Spencer and Mayor Pro Tem C. Shane Wilbanks have both served since 1985 and ran uncontested in May. Two other council members -- Darlene Freed and Stewart -- were elected in the mid-1990s.

Kathleen Thompson, an active Democrat, and other citizens started Better Grapevine to gather signatures for the petition.

"I think that it's important to serve your community, but a near decade in office in City Council is plenty of time to make your mark on the city," she said Monday.

Thompson ran unsuccessfully against Stewart in 2011.

Tate, who was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached, has said that Grapevine is a unique city that is "well-run, a model."

Petition organizers started collecting signatures in November hoping to get an amendment on the ballot Nov. 6, but organizers missed an August deadline to get the issue on the November ballot.

If approved by voters, current incumbents could serve three more terms before leaving office.

They also could take a year off and run again for any elected position.

Marty Sabota, 817-431-2231

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