Although the city is able to institute term limits for council positions, there was little appetite for the idea Tuesday within the Spokane Valley City Council.
City attorney Cary Driskell presented the council with options for creating council term limits. According to the attorney’s presentation, only five cities in Washington have adopted term limits: Edgewood, Port Angeles, Tacoma, Spokane and Monroe (which repealed them in 2017).
The presentation, which was solely informational, explained that the Washington State Constitution says little on whether cities can institute term limits. Instead, it offers the minimum qualifications a citizen must have in order to vote, which can be “extrapolated out” into the qualifications needed to serve on the council, Driskell said.
Spokane Valley has the right to create additional qualifications to holding a council position above the minimum qualifications laid out by the state constitution – in this case, the new qualification being that an individual has not spent a specified amount of time on the council previously. If the council decided to adopt term limits, it does not appear that it would retroactively include council members’ current terms, Driskell said.
Any move to create term limits would have to be by city ordinance, not resolution.
Wood was the only council member to voice support for the idea of term limits, an idea that he acknowledged there was “little appetite for by elected officials.” However, many people with whom he’s discussed the issue are fond of the idea, Wood said.
“I’m still for term limits,” he said. “I wish it were implemented all through this country.”
Elected officials are intended to be public servants who do their service and then return to their lives, but elected office has now turned into a career, Wood said.
Councilman Ed Pace said he had never thought of term limits as an additional qualification to holding office, but after hearing the issue framed that way he said his opposition to term limits was even clearer.
“If I had, I would never have liked it from the start,” Pace said. “Being a registered voter who lives in the city, that’s more in the spirit … I don’t like the idea of adding any further qualifications.”
The council appears unlikely to move ahead on any term limits measure as Wood said he was not going to push the issue any further, “especially with no support.”
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