Mayor Steve Tumlin is proposing to establish a limit of three consecutive terms for those officials. If he has his way, it would take effect in the 2017 city election cycle.
“It just basically gives them (the public) more opportunities and makes us have good rotation in our council,” he said.
Tumlin’s proposal could affect himself and several other present councilmen.
Ward 1’s Annette Lewis has been on the council since 2005 and is completing her third term. She is seeking a fourth and is opposed by Stuart Fleming.
Ward 2’s Grif Chalfant also has been on the council since 2005 and is unopposed this year. If he were to run in 2017, he would be seeking his fourth consecutive term.
Ward 5’s Anthony Coleman has been on the council since 2001 and is being challenged by Doug Martin. If Coleman wins, he will be serving his fourth term and ineligible to run again under the mayor’s plan.
Ward 6 Councilman Jim King is completing his third consecutive term, having been first elected in 2001. He is not seeking a fourth.
And that brings us to Ward 7’s Philip Goldstein, who has been on the council since 1980, is completing his consecutive full term, has no opponent next month and has offered no hints of being ready for the political pasture.
As those who follow Marietta politics know, it is Goldstein who is the unspoken target of the mayor’s proposal. He and the mayor (and previous mayors) have butted heads on numerous issues and he has sued the city over his perceived right to build a building facing Marietta Square that would exceed the city’s building-height limit for downtown. It’s not often that an elected official sues the jurisdiction that he is representing.
Goldstein and his family also are downtown’s largest private property owners, a situation that often has caused many observers, including this newspaper on occasion, to suggest he sometimes puts his property interests ahead of the public’s interest when it comes time to vote.
To his credit, Goldstein has usually been among the hardest-working and most thoroughly prepared councilmembers during his long tenure, the type of public official to whom the city code book is light reading.
Goldstein and other term limit opponents argue the public already has the ability to impose term limits via the ballot box, and there is truth to that.
On the other hand, there is much to be said for having a continual stream of new blood and new ideas on any law-making body. Two or three four-year terms should be plenty of time for a mayor and councilmen to fulfill their agendas and make their mark. And under Tumlin’s proposal, there would be nothing to preclude the officials in question from serving additional future terms after sitting out for one election cycle.
Tumlin’s proposal came out of the blue barely a week ago but has quickly picked up steam and the support of several councilmembers and challengers. Also helping fuel that support is the widespread public disenchantment not just with Goldstein’s moves through the years, but with Washington gridlock in the wake of the recent government shutdown.
If the council approves term limits (whether Tumlin’s proposal or a variation — and it appeared as this was written that Tumlin lacked the votes for his own proposal), the next step would be for the Cobb Legislative Delegation to amend the city’s charter in the 2014 session.
The president of the United States and the governor of Georgia are term-limited. That should be the case for the Marietta mayor and council as well.