Term limit vote set for June election
Commissioners take path to ballot question they think will be simpler to understand
FARGO — Voters will definitely be voting on term limits for Fargo city commissioners and the mayor in the June 14 city election.
The commissioners voted 4-1 to repeal the current term limit ordinance, make minor language adjustments to the ordinance and then have residents decide if they want to keep the city law that limits city commissioners and the mayor to three four-year terms or 12 years and if a city commissioner is elected mayor he'll be eligible for one more term or 16 years.
Thus, city voters will be basically deciding to keep term limits or not under the revised ordinance.
Commissioner Arlette Preston said it would be less confusing to voters to simply vote "yes or no" to re-enact the revised term limit ordinance which still has the basic framework of the current city law.
If a majority of voters vote yes, the term limits would basically continue as they currently stand.
The other option, explained former City Attorney Erik Johnson, who is still working part-time on city issues, was a ballot question where voters would have to vote "yes or no" to repeal the existing law which he and the commissioners thought would be more confusing just because of the way it would have to be worded.
Mayor Tim Mahoney's court case where he won the right to seek another term because he filled a partial term as mayor was one of the reasons city leaders wanted to clarify the ordinance.
Under the current ordinance, a mayor or city commissioner could seek re-election after they finished their three terms and then sat out until the next regular city election or at least two years later.
Commissioner John Strand was the lone vote against rewriting the current ordinance and putting it on the ballot as he thought an "advisory vote" where residents would simply vote yes or no to the simple question of whether to keep term limits would be even less confusing.
Commissioner Tony Gehrig said they have to put the term limit question on the ballot as the commission has already agreed to do so earlier. This way, he said, residents have the say on whether to keep the limits or not.