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Proposed term limit ordinance does not move forward

By Staff | Nov 15, 2017

A proposed ordinance concerning term limits by Councilman Jason Maughan did not receive any support from Mayor Kevin Ruane, or Councilman Chauncey Goss, the only other two councilmen in attendance last week, resulting in it not moving forward.

Maughan said he was fulfilling a campaign promise, one that arose when he was running against incumbents. He said he thought term limits were appropriate for the island to bring them inline with statewide offices.

“Personally, I am a great believer in the Republic and the sense of governance that we look for in citizens as representatives, as opposed to politicians as careers,” he said. “I think it’s in the best interest of the country and certainly the best interest for the island in my opinion.”

The idea of having an eight-year term, two terms, was a fair stint, he said.

“It’s just about a decade of you directing where your interests lie,” Maughan said. “I honestly believe that it is important to bring other people, or give them the opportunity to run where they are not against a group of incumbents. It’s very discouraging for people to expose themselves to tens of thousands of dollars of professional campaign advice money going against them to a city of 6,000 people.”

He went on to say that he also recognizes that the city does not have a large pool of people vying for the job. Maughan said after their eight years of service they can run again.

He proposed that an individual be taken out of one election cycle to give other people a chance to run. Maughan said by doing that they would not have “an incumbent sort of machine behind them.”

He said having term limits is an issue for the electorate.

“This is one for the citizens of Sanibel to see do we want to create a situation where it is much more fertile ground for women and men who want to help out, but may not have at the start of this 1,500 people behind them. They will have the opportunity then to win those 1,500 people over to their side and their positions. It also allows changes in direction. If you have the same politicians in the position, they have interests and desires for the city that are specific. Many times we concentrate on those,” Maughan said. “Sometimes you need someone up there that says, what about this other issue? This is important, too. This should be at the forefront.”

The first question that was asked by Mayor Kevin Ruane was would the ordinance not go before the newly developed Charter Review Committee. Maughan responded by stating that it was a general population topic, one for the electorate.

Goss said he thought the topic was appropriate for the Charter Review Committee because it would be a change in the charter.

“I think this preempts them a little bit and I don’t want to do that,” he said.

Ruane said he was not going to move forward with the proposed ordinance for many reasons, one of which was he, too, thought that it was an issue for the Charter Review Committee.

“In my time running with you, or against you, not one person came up to me and said we should talk about term limits. Quite frankly we have a hard time finding people to do this job and incumbency is the way, let the community deal with it,” Ruane said.

Sanibel resident Karen Storjohann said she believes there is merit to the idea of term limits if you are talking about politicians. She said a great deal of the public does not realize the City Council is not paid, creating an entire educational process to even get them to an understanding of how things work here.

“Your concept of term limits is more suitable for entrenched politicians earning money and making use of their position to earn money is more applicable. I don’t see it as applicable here with what takes place on Sanibel,” Storjohann said.

Will Smith, also a Sanibel resident, said he objects to the loss of his ability to vote for people who he would like to vote for just because they have been on the council for eight years.

“That reduces my freedoms. I am perfectly capable of voting against people who are on the council and are not doing the job. Anyone else paying attention will also feel the same way,” he said.