Eggers’ push for Pinellas County Commission term limits dies on the vine

With just one other commissioner in support, the Chair said he will not move forward in seeking a voter referendum.
Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers.
Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers.
Published Dec. 3, 2021

The Pinellas County Commission will not move forward with a proposal that would have allowed the public to vote on whether or not seats on that board should have term limits.

Initially brought up in October, commission chairman Dave Eggers asked the board to consider moving forward with drafting an ordinance that would add a term limits referendum question to the November ballot.

Eggers proposed commissioners be limited to three terms — or 12 years — in office, with a suggested four-year break before running for re-election.

“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” Eggers said.

It’s not the first time term limits have been considered in the county. The question was up for vote in 1996, and 70 percent of voters supported enacting term limits for commissioners. That vote was later challenged in court and ultimately thrown out over legal technicalities. The question hasn’t been put up for a vote since.

“I like the idea of letting the voters make the decision,” Commissioner Kathleen Peters said during the work session on Thursday. “I have no problem moving this forward.”

But the idea gained no additional traction. During the October discussion, commissioners Janet Long and Pat Gerard spoke in stark opposition, and commissioner Charlie Justice questioned the need for change, noting that the public can vote officials out of office when they see fit.

Because putting the question on the ballot would require support from five of the seven commissioners, Eggers said he would not move the proposal forward.

With a county ordinance off the table, term limits would need to be initiated by a voter drive or through the charter review process, which is ultimately overseen by commissioners.

“I think with two people moving it forward, it’s not going to happen,” Eggers said on Thursday. “I think you’re missing the boat on an opportunity and it’s going to come your way anyway.”