Opinion: Tigard City Council Term Limits

Tigard City Hall. Photo by Henry Kaus.
Tigard City Hall. Photo by Henry Kaus.

At the December 21st and January 11 meetings of the Tigard City Council, elected officials discussed clarifying term limits while the rest of us Tigard citizens worry about the cost of food and gas, income/job/housing security and keeping our families safe in the midst of a pandemic.

It is clear and unambiguous that the architects of the City Charter intended that there be a cap on time served on City Council. So did Tigard voters in 2015. “No councilor shall serve the City as Councilor for more than 8 consecutive years, nor shall the Mayor serve as Mayor for more than 8 consecutive years. In no case shall any person serve on the City Council for more than 12 consecutive years.” FULL STOP.

As one of the few citizens who witnessed the City Council pivoting from hastily putting this issue on the May ballot, it appears that they are now taking up discussion on the meaning of “consecutive” and “breaks in service.”

Why? Because Councilor Goodhouse and Mayor Snider have to meet a filing deadline to run for Mayor.

I find it disingenuous to parse Charter language when all you have to do is look at the math and intent. 

Mayor Snider has served continuously since January 2013, a period of 9 years,  minus a 5 day period when he resigned, until being sworn in as Mayor.  That looks like consecutive years of service to me. Further, serving another term in office would put him over the 12 year limit, so, in my opinion, he is ineligible to run for re-election.  I submit that it doesn’t take a Charter review committee  or a Council resolution to pencil that out. 

City Council has the ability to interpret the Charter “for the conduct of its municipal affairs.” This discussion of clarifying the Charter language on term limits is not for the benefit of the community but for the political fortunes of Council members. To allow  a current Councilor or Mayor to manipulate the definition of “consecutive” with a break in service by a few days to restart the clock is not only contrary to the logic of limiting time served on Council, I find it a deceitful attempt to game the process.

To sneak this discussion under the radar of citizens not only lacks transparency but is a waste of staff resources at taxpayer expense.

Tigard Life welcomes Letters to the Editor on various topics affecting Tigard. Letters should be limited to 500 words and emailed to mike@Tigardlife.com.