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Tampa City Council advances charter changes for voters

One measure would limit council members to four consecutive terms.
 
The Tampa City Council unanimously approved sending three charter amendments to voters on Thursday.
The Tampa City Council unanimously approved sending three charter amendments to voters on Thursday. [ Charlie Frago ]
Published Dec. 16, 2022|Updated Dec. 16, 2022

TAMPA — Three proposed charter changes approved unanimously this week by City Council members look likely to be sent to Tampa voters in March.

One charter amendment would limit Council members from serving more than four consecutive terms. Only one member, Charlie Miranda, who has held his seat since 2007, currently has served four terms.

Even if voters approve it, the measure doesn’t take effect until 2027. So that means if Miranda files for reelection in 2023 to his at-large District 2 seat, the measure wouldn’t disqualify him because it goes into effect four years later.

Two terms could be served in a geographically defined district. The other two could be citywide. And if a Council member took four years off, the clock starts back at zero, said Alan Zimmet, an attorney hired to help craft the measure.

Council member Luis Viera said he would have preferred “stricter” term limits, but said he’d still vote for it.

“Lord knows I’m not going to send this thing back to the drawing board,” Viera said at Thursday’s meeting.

Another amendment would shorten the time between charter reviews. A volunteer board of community members is now selected by the mayor and City Council to decide whether any changes are needed. That panel, the Charter Review Advisory Commission, is selected every 10 years. The amendment shortens the wait to eight years and requires an attorney and professional facilitator to help in the process. Council members would hire both.

Bill Carlson, Orlando Gudes, Joseph Citro and Lynn Hurtak all served on the previous charter review commission in 2018.

A third amendment would require the city to pay for an independent attorney for the Citizen Review Board, a police oversight panel. The attorney would not be a city employee.

The final vote on the amendments is slated for Jan. 5. If approved, voters would weigh in at the March 7 city election.

Despite recent disputes with Mayor Jane Castor over mayoral power, the Council in November backed away from placing limits on the executive branch.

Related: Tampa City Council members lose tempers in charter fight