City leaders strike down term limits, consider new election date - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

City leaders strike down term limits, consider new election date

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - After very little discussion, city leaders made it clear: they are not interested in limiting their time in office.

"We end up in the situation where sometimes we have someone who is outstanding and is doing a fantastic job for their district and for the city, and you hate to see them roll off," says Chairwoman Pam Ladd.

"People think I'm just trying to keep my job," added Councilman Manny Rico. "I don't need this job. I really believe in what I'm doing."

Councilwoman Deborah Scott wants members to roll off after two four-year terms. She says it encourages new candidate participation, and levels the playing field.

Long-time members see it differently. Jack Benson is against term limits, saying it takes away from the democratic process and experience in city leadership.

"I know when I first came on the council, I had to look to some of the people with experience to know what kind of obligations we had in the future," says Benson. "I needed their help."

Scott also wants to move the city races to coincide with the presidential election. She says it will save the city money, and increase voter turnout. She says city elections usually average 18 percent voter participation.

"Presidential elections are more voted in than local elections," says Scott. "When people are already there, then there would be more participation in our local elections."

That's an idea her peers are open to.

Both measures would require a referendum of voters before taking effect.

Council members discussed holding a public meeting to debate rescheduling the election.

The City's attorney says they need to act fast to get the issue on the ballot in November.

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