Warren to vote on extending mayoral terms

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

This story has been updated to reflect that the idea for raising the number of terms a Warren mayor can serve came from Councilman Robert Boccomino. Due to incorrect information given to The Detroit News, the person was misidentified in the story. 

Warren residents will be asked to vote in August to approve extending mayoral term limits that would let someone serve up to 20 years in the post.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.

Councilman Robert Boccomino initiated the request for the ballot proposal, which would change the term limit from a maximum three, 4-year terms to five, 4-year terms.

If approved by voters, the change would include mayor, Jim Fouts, who was re-elected in November for a third and final 4-year term.

But a small group of residents Tuesday night said they were opposed to the ballot proposal and extending a mayoral term.

“Twelve years is enough in any position,” said Scott Holloway at a special City Council meeting where members passed a resolution for a proposal on the August ballot that would change the mayoral term limit from a maximum of three, four-year terms to five, four-year terms.

“I’m kind of disappointed that this passed without more public discussion,” said Holloway, one of less than a dozen residents at Tuesday’s meeting.

Boccomino on Wednesday said term limits do not work and that lengthening the term limit for mayor would allow an individual in the position to reach a higher level of experience.

"I think that might have been an older, generational thing 17, 20 years ago at the state level and city level --everyone was pushing for term limits, but it's broken," he said. "It doesn't work. You get rid of people that are doing well, they have to leave because of term limits even though the job is being done well."

Fouts, who did not attend the meeting, said he did not lobby for the proposal, but he's not opposed to it.

Council President Cecil St. Pierre said there may be changes to the ballot proposal language based on feedback from the state Attorney General’s Office.

Councilman Scott Stevens, who said he didn’t want to vote on the ballot proposal resolution Tuesday, said he would place the item on the agenda of the City Council’s next regular meeting for further public discussion.

In November 1998, residents voted to place term limits on the office of mayor, the City Council, city clerk and city treasurer at three terms, or 12 years. Prior to that the longest serving mayor was Ted Bates, from 1967-81.

In 2010, voters approved reducing its council from nine at-large members to two at-large members and five district members. As a result an official is eligible to serve up to 12 years as an at-large council member and another 12 years as a district council member.

“As a strong form of government, the positions of council and mayor should have equal terms of eligibility for office, to continue to attract strong leaders, and to preserve a governmental system with an equally balanced distribution of power and effective system of checks and balances,” said the resolution under consideration Tuesday evening.

The council also approved resolutions Tuesday night for ballot proposals that would ask voters in August to renew the 2.1-mill local road millage that expires in December and the 4.9-mill police and fire safety services millage that expires July 2017.


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