Wednesday, November 21, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Temple Terrace charter amendments approved by voters

  • With all 13 precincts reporting, Temple Terrace voters approved all three charter amendments on the ballot, including one that changes the basic structure of government. That amendment passed 53 percent to 47 percent.
  • By a much wider margin — 66 to 34 percent –voters favored an amendment that would allow elected officials to find a way around term limits.
  • For more election results, check here.

The majority of Temple Terrace voters voted to change the structure of city government from five council members and a non-voting mayor to four council members and a mayor, all with the power to vote. The change would take place in the 2020 election.

They also favored an amendment that would let a member of council or a mayor serve indefinitely by serving two terms on the council, then two terms as mayor, then back to council and so on.

A third amendment to correct typos, grammar and update gender references without putting such minor changes to a vote passed 63 to 37 percent.

A  charter review committee recommended that the City Council put the   proposed government change on the ballot. Joe Affronti, a former mayor and chairman of the committee, said the group had talked to past mayors who felt frustrated having no regular vote. Mayors can vote only to break a tie when a council member is absent. "You feel like you're just up there," Affronti said.

But "Vote No" signs popped up as here and there in this oak-shaded suburban city, putting in doubt the amendments' success.

"I'm in favor of allowing people to have a say in government, and I feel like the charter is limiting the opportunity to bring new people into the city government," said businessman and resident Ken Copenhaver.

He was concerned, too, about the second amendment, which would allow a council member to move to the mayor's spot then back to council again indefinitely.

"It puts you in a situation where if you have three people in agreement all the time, then those three people run the city government," Copenhaver said.

The four council candidates were evenly split on the first two amendments, though all supported the third.

Cheri Donohue, who won her race for re-election, opposed the charter changes, saying she thought the current system works well. James Chambers, also elected to council, served on the charter review committee. He said he opposed the changes but was out-voted by other committee members.

Gil Schisler, another candidate to win an open seat on council, was a charter review committee member who favored the changes. He had said that citizens would still be represented by five voting members, and they had the power to vote anyone out of office.

Don Statz, who lost his bid for a council seat, said he favored the charter changes because of conversations with past mayors.

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