In The News › Term limits overwhelmingly approved for St. Tammany Parish Council

Term limits overwhelmingly approved for St. Tammany Parish Council

By Robert Rhoden | The Times-Picayune

March 5, 2016

St. Tammany Parish voters decided by a huge margin Saturday (March 5) to limit Parish Council members to three consecutive four-year terms in office. The measure will not take effect until the end of the current term, which started in January, so the incumbents will be allowed to continue serving until 2032 if re-elected three times.

The vote was a long time coming. Some residents and political groups have for many years called for term limits, arguing restrictions would assure fresh faces and ideas on the 14-member council and eliminate the political and fund-raising advantages that longtime incumbents enjoy. But the group that had been the most vocal in advocating term limits did not support the measure; Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany pushed hard for a two-term limit that would take effect immediately.

Instead, the Parish Council voted last year to put before voters a three-term limit that does not take effect until 2020. Concerned Citizens President Rick Franzo called the proposition “a trick to perpetuate their incumbency until at least 2032 regardless of the vote.” The group asked voters to ignore the proposition.

St. Tammany’s home rule charter now limits the parish president to three consecutive terms but contains no limit on council members. The private Bureau of Governmental Research supported the proposition, calling it a “a step in the right direction” even though it is not in line with the two-term limits imposed on most other New Orleans area parish councils.

Opponents of term limits, including many on the Parish Council, have said restrictions are not needed because voters have an opportunity to oust a council member every four years during elections. They said the St. Tammany council has experienced much turnover in recent years without term limits.

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