No term limits, majority on Apache Junction City Council opine

Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy at a recent council meeting. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia)

Apache Junction’s mayor is in favor, but all six City Council members are against limiting the number of terms citizens can run for office, according to a recent discussion.

The mayor is elected to a two-year term and council members to a four-year term.

Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy said he is seeking term limits for all positions on City Council.

“Mayor and council because as I talk to the voters — the citizens — they all think that it’s a good thing and it’s happening nationwide, the same at Congress and the Senate. I mean, people going in there for 40 and 50 years and you cannot get them out and so people would just like to see new ideas, new blood. I’m term-limiting myself, obviously. I pledged not to run again,” he said at the council’s March 19 meeting.

Councilwoman Christa Rizzi

Councilwoman Christa Rizzi said she has heard the opposite.

“Initially, when this was brought up that we may be discussing it, my initial thoughts were in favor and so I’ve actually talked to, again, a lot of citizens in the community — some outside but mostly inside the community — and surprisingly it’s surprised me that people were against it,” she said.

“I think there’s a huge difference between term limits for our national politics and term limits for our local politics. Nationally I think we need it; I think there’s no question,” Ms. Rizzi said.

In a smaller community, term limits could limit the number of people available to run, she said.

“By having limits, we could potentially narrow down the pool of candidates to serve on council and mayor so much that you could potentially not have any,” she said.

Councilwoman Robin Barker at a meeting in 2018. (Arianna Grainey, Independent Newsmedia

Voters decide how long an individual stays in office, Councilwoman Robin Barker said.

“We do have term limits. They’re called voters. They go to the polls, they make a decision and we’ve had more and more people come out to the polls,” she said.

If a majority on the council approved limiting the number of terms, it would have to be placed on a ballot for voters to decide.

Apache Junction City Clerk Kathy Connelly at a recent Apache Junction City Council meeting.

“You would have to say what the term-limited term would be, you’d have to determine an effective date and then it would go to the voters,” Apache Junction City Clerk Kathy Connelly said.

“It would not just be a ballot issue. It would be a publicity pamphlet including the entire ordinance and related materials in both Spanish and English and I would have to solicit arguments from the public either for and against. It’s not just a simple ‘throw it on the ballot,’” she said.

Some on the council appeared to agree that the mayor’s term should be extended from two years to four.

City Attorney Joel Stern said that if the council agreed to extend the mayor term to four years, the council would need to vote to have it placed on the ballot for Apache Junction voters to decide.

“When the two-year term was established by the voters following council approval of an ordinance — and that ordinance proposed two things, direct election of mayor and with the term of office for that mayoral position should be — so the voters approved the direct election of mayor with a two-year term,” Ms. Connelly said.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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