Larger council, term limits are proposed

The Tracy Charter Commission is recommending that the city council be expanded from four to six council representatives, and that elected council members serve no more than 12 years.

Rosemary Martin, charter commission chair, said to the council Monday that commission members unanimously feel that a larger council would give the public more representation, and make greater diversity and discussion possible.

Expanding would be a reversal from January of 2011, when the city’s governing board was reduced from six council positions and a mayor, to four council members and a mayor.  Advocates of a smaller council at that time, argued that fewer members would make for a more efficient governing body and save money.

The proposed term limits provision calls for no elected individual to serve more than 12 consecutive years as mayor and/or a city council member.   The new language is intended to clarify whether the 12-year limit resets, if a council member becomes mayor, or the mayor becomes a council member.  A past city legal opinion allowed former mayor and council member Steve Ferrazzano to serve more than 12 consecutive years.

Martin said that it is the charter commission’s intent to have no individual serve more than 12 consecutive years on the government board, regardless of whether it’s as a councilman, mayor or combination of both.

Council member Jeri Schons, who was appointed to the council earlier this year, said she supported the 12-year limit. However, she felt that the 12 years should start counting only once someone had been elected, and not merely appointed.  Otherwise, she noted, individuals like herself and Kou Thao, who were appointed to office in 2018, could be elected to a maximum of two, four-year terms, because of their one-year appointment.

Schons  felt that the term limits and size of the council should be determined by a vote of the people.

“It needs to go before the people,” she said.

The council is scheduled to consider the proposed term limits/council size  ballot issue at their next meeting.  The charter commission is to proposed updated language on the charter amendments at the time.