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Arlington voters to decide on increasing term lengths for mayor, city council

Arlington voters to decide on increasing term lengths for mayor, city council
Arlington voters to decide on increasing term lengths for mayor, city council 02:33

ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM)  Voters in Arlington will soon decide whether the mayor and city council members should serve longer terms, just four years after residents overwhelmingly approved term limits for those positions.

Currently, the mayor and city council members serve two-year terms.

On Tuesday night, the Arlington City Council unanimously approved putting a measure on the ballot to increase the length of those terms to three years.

"I think it makes us more efficient," said one supporter at the council meeting. "It's better for continuity."

Current council members say three-year terms would allow them more time to focus on governing, instead of campaigning for the next election.

Council member Andrew Piel also believes more people would be willing to serve.

"So not only will we have more people running and serving on council, not only will we have a city government that's more responsive to citizens needs, we will also have a city government that works better for everybody," he said on Tuesday night.

If the measure is approved, the mayor and city council could serve up to nine years total at each post, versus the six they are capped at now.

In a 2018 special election, 62% of Arlington residents voted to limit those positions to three, two-year terms.

"The voters have spoken, so for the establishment council to ignore that is insulting," said Alisa Simmons, president of Arlington NAACP. "It's like forget what you guys voted on a few years ago, we want to do something different and we can put this back on the ballot."

Simmons feels council rushed to get the measure on in time for November.

"We hope people pay attention and contact their city council people and ask them why are you doing this?" she said. "They may agree with them, but this does not need to be rushed under the cover of darkness."

Arlington Mayor Jim Ross said he and council members received "quite a bit" of citizen requests to put this issue on the ballot.

He said if it's approved, it would not impact the length of the term he and council members are currently serving.

"There isn't any real clear rationale for this, which seems to be a very persuasive campaign issue," said Thomas Marshall, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington. "And there's certainly some opposition to this, and it's a high turnout election. So I guess if I had one message, this one looks like a long shot."

The election will be November 8. More information is available on the city's website.

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