Arlington

Arlington term limits wrangling takes another odd twist with ... Sunday night meeting?

Arlington resident claims victory in standoff over term limits

Zack Maxwell, who led the petition drive in Arlington for strong, retroactive term limits for council members, said the city's alternate proposition "was done to deliberately create confusion."
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Zack Maxwell, who led the petition drive in Arlington for strong, retroactive term limits for council members, said the city's alternate proposition "was done to deliberately create confusion."

The city refuses to give up on its alternative term limit proposal, scheduling special meetings Sunday and Monday to ensure the item gets on the Nov. 6 ballot.

It’s been a tumultuous week for the controversial term limit proposal brought forth by the city as it faced a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order that seemingly killed it.

The lawsuit accused the city of rushing the proposal through without the required two votes.

The lawsuit was filed by Zack Maxwell, who leads a team of supporters for a stronger term limit proposal that would retroactively force five longtime council members out over the next two years.

Now, the special meetings have apparently brought the city’s proposal back so it can get the required two votes. The deadline to place items on the ballot is Monday.

“To comply with the temporary restraining order filed in a Tarrant County District Court on Wednesday, the Arlington City Council will hold special meetings this Sunday and Monday to take votes on separate ballot propositions to go before Arlington voters on Nov. 6,” according to a statement issued by the city.

It goes on to say that the city is preparing its case for an injunction hearing for the lawsuit on Aug. 24.

This unusual action requires Arlington to suspend its own rules so it can expedite both items with two votes before the deadline on Monday.

Typically, Arlington must have 72 hours between first and second readings.

The proposal drafted by the city attorney’s office would expand City Council terms from two years to three years and limit them to three consecutive terms. Then, they could sit out a term and run again or they could immediately run for mayor.

Most important, the city’s proposal wouldn’t count past service, meaning it wouldn’t be retroactive so long-term council members could serve another nine years.

That’s in sharp contrast to the proposal brought forth by the resident petition, which had more than 11,000 signatures. That proposition kept terms at two years, limited council members to three terms and then prohibited them from serving on council again.

They could immediately run for mayor but, again, could only serve three terms at that seat. And it would be retroactive, forcing five council members out in the next two years.

The proposal from the citizen’s petition will be on the ballot as written because the petition was certified with the required number of signatures.

Arlington resident Bill Middleton said he opposes any kind of term limits but supports the council’s decision to have these meetings.

“The very first thing you do is call up the judge and ask them, ‘What do we need to do,’” Middleton said. “They’re following what the judge wanted them to do.”

He said term limits infringe on the rights of candidates and voters.

“Don’t touch my right to vote for who I want to vote for,” Middleton said. “If they do a good job, they should get to keep doing it. Don’t tell me you can’t get another candidate elected. We’ve got a brand new mayor and three council members since 2015.”

Maxwell declined to comment for the article but posted on his Facebook page that the council’s behavior is disturbing.

“When given a restraining order, Mayor [Jeff] Williams knee-jerk response is ‘Let’s see how we can bypass it,”’ Maxwell posted.

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