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Election 2004

Voters to consider ending term limits

Most of Oldsmar's council favors the proposal. Mayor Jerry Beverland, who was forced out by limits after two terms as mayor in the 1990s, opposes it.

By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published October 25, 2004

OLDSMAR - When they cast their ballots Nov. 2, city residents will decide whether to eliminate term limits for Oldsmar's elected officials.

The referendum to remove term limits for the mayor and City Council is one of four proposed revisions to the city charter that Oldsmar voters will consider.

Currently, term limits dictate that council members can serve two consecutive three-year terms. If the measure passes, elected officials would be able to run for office again regardless of the number of terms they have already served.

For example, Mayor Jerry Beverland, who was forced out of office by term limits once before after serving two terms as mayor from 1995 to 1999, would be eligible to run for a third term in 2007.

But the mayor was the only council member to vote against including the term limits referendum on the November ballot at a council meeting earlier this year. And he has said that he is not interested in seeking another term in Oldsmar's top elected position or running for a spot on the council.

"I don't have a problem with term limits," he said last week. "Term limits don't really matter. If they don't like you, they're going to vote you out anyway."

City Council member Janice Miller said she was in favor of eliminating term limits in Oldsmar. They could force voters to choose a candidate they don't really like, she said, just because an elected official's term is up.

"If I'm doing a good job, they should be able to vote for me," said Miller, who is in her first term and will be able to run for re-election regardless of what voters decide in November.

The city has imposed term limits on its elected officials since the mid-1980s, according to Beverland. The proposed change was recommended by the city's charter review committee, a five-member panel of citizens appointed by the council to examine the charter every three years.

"It's the voters' choice," said committee member Rita Diehl, 52. "If a person's doing a good job, he should keep his job and not be forced out."

In April, the council approved four of their recommendations for the November ballot. The other referendums include:

Adding reclaimed water, cable television, electric service and telecommunications to the charter's list of city utilities. This is a housekeeping change meant to update the charter, city officials say.

Lengthening the time provisions for filing a referendum petition from 30 days to 60 days after a council ordinance is adopted.

"It makes the whole process easier for the folks that file the petition and for the city to work through everything that we have to do up to election day," City Clerk Lisa Lene said.

Increasing the time limit for the city to hold an election on a referendum petition from between 30 and 60 days to between 90 and 120 days after the petition was accepted.

This will allow Oldsmar to comply with Florida statutes, Lene said.

-- Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at 727 771-4303 or cshoichet@sptimes.com

[Last modified October 25, 2004, 02:35:37]


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