BROOKSVILLE — On the November election ballot, Brooksville voters will asked whether they want to amend the city's charter by answering two questions regarding City Council members.
One amendment, if approved, would increase consecutive-term limits for council members to three four-year terms, from the current two terms. The other would allow for the forfeiture of office should a City Council member no longer meet the residency requirement of having his or her primary residence within the city limits.
Although twice rejected, voters in 1995 finally approved a proposal that limited council members to two consecutive terms, and allowing them to run again after a year out of office.
The argument to extend the limit to three consecutive terms has its proponents and opponents. Brooksville Vice Mayor Lara Bradburn, who is in the middle of her second consecutive term, said that she sees both pluses and minuses to the proposal, and remains undecided how she will vote.
"These days, it's very difficult to find and keep quality candidates," Bradburn said. "Certainly, if you have someone on the council who provides leadership and has a vision for the city, you want to keep them if they want to stay."
However, Bradburn says she worries whether lengthening term limits will dissuade newcomers from running for office.
"They may see someone on the council that they feel they could never beat," Bradburn said. "And if that keeps a good candidate from wanting to seek office, it could be detrimental to the city's future."
Betty Erhard, an aspiring City Council candidate who sits on the city's charter review committee, agreed with Bradburn's assessment, but ultimately believes that the lengthening the number of consecutive terms doesn't necessarily provide incumbents with an advantage.
"In the end, it's the voters who decides when the council needs new blood," Erhard said. "Just because someone can run a third time, it doesn't mean that they'll be elected."
The other amendment that voters will decide on isn't nearly as complicated.
A residency requirement has long been in place for anyone seeking elective office in the city. But according to Brooksville City Manager, Jennene Norman-Vacha, the city charter never included a requirement for council members to remain residents after voted into office.
"I think you'll find that requirement in just about every municipality," Norman-Vacha said. "The committee felt it was time to address it in our own charter."
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected]mpabay.com or (352) 848-1435.