Arlington term limits proposal: Stability for business or a chance for new leadership?

The battle over City Council term limits has been contentious since it surfaced last summer.

A group of Arlington residents circulated a petition and obtained more than 11,000 signatures with nearly 9,000 certified, forcing the City Council to place the issue on the ballot.

On Nov. 6, Arlington voters decide whether to approve Proposition E, which would limit council members and the mayor to three two-year terms retroactively. If approved, the move would effectively oust five council members in the next two years. Early voting begins Monday.

Zack Maxwell, who publishes the online Arlington Voice website and helped lead the petition drive, has said term limits are needed because most residents can’t get elected under the current system.

“This is allowing citizens to take back control,” Maxwell said.

.Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams has argued the proposition has “some of the most restrictive term limit measures in the country” because it permanently bans council members from ever running again and would retroactively effect incumbents on the council. Some other cities, such as Dallas, allow them to sit out a term and run again, Williams said.

“This could have a huge impact on economic development,” Williams said. “Businesses want stability and to know that things aren’t going to suddenly change.”

Maxwell has said the city “will have no shortage of leaders” ready to run for office if this term limits passes.

At Tuesday’s City Council afternoon meeting, Williams said he would form a citizens committee to study term limits regardless of the election’s outcome.

City Council member Sheri Capehart questioned the need for the committee ahead of the election.

“It just seems premature to me,” Capehart said.

The term limits battle has been marked by conflict and fiery rhetoric.

The city tried to place its own term-limit proposition on the ballot but a lawsuit filed by Maxwell persuaded a judge to issue a restraining order against the city and the City Council then dropped its term limit proposal.

That lawsuit is still active with Maxwell claiming the city has made “unmanageable” requests against him and city officials saying he could drop the suit at any time.

In its latest campaign finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission that covered the reporting period through Sept. 27, the We Love Arlington PAC, which opposes term limits, had pledged contributions of $150,000 and has unpaid incurred obligations of $146,205.26,which were for its political consultant, Mayes Media Group.

Its largest contributions included $1,000 from former UTA presidents James Spaniolo and $1,000 from David G. Walker. Pledged contributions include $100,000 from Viridian Holdings LP and $50,000 Moritz Partners LP.

The Citizens for a Better Arlington, PAC, had political contributions of $5,932.23 and expenditures of $5,919.33. Its largest contributions were $2,500 from the Arlington Fire Fighters Association PAC and $500 from the Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association. Expenditures included $1,150 to Maxwell for salaries/wages/contract labor.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @ fwhanna
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