When City of Allen voters go to the polls on May 6, they won’t be voting on whether the city should adopt term limits for its mayors. But they will be deciding whether to choose a brand new mayor who supports term limits or re-elect a 20-year incumbent who doesn’t.
Steve Terrell has served as Allen’s mayor since 1997, a record 20 years. Before that, he was a city council member for six years.
Mayoral challenger Naomi Emmett, on the other hand, is a newcomer to elected office.
In a forum last month for mayoral and city council candidates, participants were asked whether they supported term limits for the offices they were seeking. Emmett said that, if elected, she would advocate for term limits for the mayor and councilmembers. Such limits, she said, provide checks and balances on individual power and allow a chance for other voices to be heard.
She added that holding public office should be “a term of service, not a position of power.”
Emmett is endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Mayor Terrell joked that the question was likely directed at him – although Allen’s six current councilmembers have a combined 55 years in office, with three having served 10 or more years.
Terrell said that he opposes term limits because they disrupt stability within local government. “Stability in local elected officials is the best thing you can have in the city of Allen,” Terrell said. “It gives the bureaucracy stability.”
He added that a request for term limits had never come from any citizen. That may soon change.
A number of Allen citizens who want to add term limits to the city’s charter have said they’ll petition to get a vote on the issue in November. A charter election requires signatures of 20,000 or five percent of registered voters. Allen has about 57,000 registered voters, so citizens can successfully petition the issue onto the ballot with about 2,850 signatures.
Whether a majority of Allen voters would approve the measure remains to be seen. Turnout is notoriously low in local elections.
Politicians are fond of saying, “We have term limits. They’re called elections.” Whether or not Allen voters favor term limits, they should go to the polls on May 6 and select the candidates who best represent their values.