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Stevens Point Journal

Stevens Point alderwoman proposes term limits for mayor, council members. Vote postponed.

By Karen Madden, Stevens Point Journal,


STEVENS POINT − A city committee decided Monday to delay discussion on whether to create term limits for the city's mayor and alderpersons until after the April election.

Alderwoman Polly Dalton proposed a city ordinance that would limit the number of terms a mayor could serve to three and the number of terms an alderperson could serve to four. The proposal was placed on the agenda for Monday's Public Policy and General Government Committee. The proposed ordinance stated that any terms served prior to May 15, 2023, would not count.

Dalton told the committee Monday that she had included starting everyone with zero so that no one would get the idea that he or she was being targeted.

"I didn't want to create complications with its implementation," Dalton said.

Currently, three of the 11 members of the council have served four or more term: Mary Kneebone, Shaun Morrow and Meleesa Johnson, said City Clerk Kari Yenter. The proposed ordinance would not count any of the terms they have served.

Dalton said a number of her constituents have suggested term limits to her. Term limits would open up opportunities for people who are newer in the community and want to get involved. Former council members and mayors stay involved in the city after they leave office, which increases the number of people helping the community, she said.

"They are people who have engaged with their neighbors and community and will continue to do so," Dalton said.

Term limits would give people interested in running for mayor or city council an idea of how many years they will be serving. It also would give current officials an idea of how long they will have in office, Dalton said.

Public Policy and General Government Committee member Mykeerah Zarazua made a motion to postpone any discussion of the ordinance until after the April election. The public needs to be involved in the discussion, she said.

"I think it's an important discussion and I'd like to have it," Zarazua said.

It would be a major change in structure for the city government, said committee member Marc Christianson. He said he agreed with the motion to postpone, which he seconded, to give time for more discussion.

Committee Chairwoman Keely Fishler read two letters she received about the ordinance. Resident Michael Richards wrote that the "11th hour proposal" failed to provide enough notice for city residents to be heard on the issue. Richards objected to a decision on the issue being made three weeks before the April 4 election.

Former Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson also wrote a letter to the committee. He said that, while he absolutely supports term limits on the federal level, he finds them unnecessary for the city.

"I found, as mayor, some of the most knowledgeable aldermen were those who had worked for years," Halverson wrote.

The electorate has the ability at each and every election to decide for themselves who should leave office, Halverson wrote.

The committee voted unanimously to postpone the discussion and decision on the proposed ordinance until the April meeting of the committee. If the committee approves the ordinance, it would then go the the Stevens Point City Council. If the council members approve it, it would become effective 60 days after it is published, Yenter said.

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