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Sandy Journal

Sandy City Council votes down term limits proposal

May 08, 2018 03:17PM ● By Justin Adams

Sandy City Councilwoman Maren Barker reacts to her proposed term limits amendment being voted down.

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

During the May 1 Sandy City Council meeting, the city councilors voted 4-3 to reject a proposed code amendment that would have set term limits for all elected officials in the city. 

The amendment, written by Councilwoman Maren Barker, would restrict city councilors and mayors to two 4-year terms. 

"It always seemed odd to me that our President of the United States has a term limit of eight years, but no one else has term limits," said Barker as she introduced the amendment.

"I believe our government from the very beginning was set up to be part-time. It’s a part-time community service," Barker told the Sandy City Journal following the council meeting. "I think 10 years, 20, 30, we’re getting away from the idea that you serve in a voluntary capacity and then you go back to your normal job."

All but one of the several citizens who gave public comment supported the term limit proposal, though some did say that they would be fine with three 4-year terms rather than two.

Cyndi Sharkey, the one resident who spoke against term limits, said that she was against term limits on principle.

"I’m against any law whose soul purpose is to protect us from our own stupidity. If we’re too dumb or too uninformed to vote out candidates who have outlived their usefulness, then we deserve what we get and hopefully we learn something very valuable in those kinds of cases."

Sharkey added that having years of experience should not be considered a disqualifier.

On the other hand, Dea Theodore (who ran a campaign for a city council seat in 2017) said during citizen comments that long terms of service can have a negative effect.

"After serving in an elected position for so long, one can become complacent, entitled, lose connection with residents, and maybe even forget the reason they decided to run for office in the first place," said Theodore.

Theodore also noted that her position on a PTA board even has recommended term limits and that other PTA boards even have enforced term limits.

Councilman Chris McCandless said that he opposed the idea of term limits because of how much value experience brings to the position.

He suggested that if he and the other longer-serving members of the city council were not there, the new Hale Centre Theater would not be located in Sandy. 

"A lot of people participated in that but I’ve been credited with being the point of the sword," he said. 

McCandless also cited his record of obtaining state funding for city projects, which he said is made possible by maintaining relationships with state legislators and agency officials, relationships which he said would be harder to establish with a higher turnover rate on the city council.

Councilman Steve Fairbanks also opposed the term limits amendment. "We already have term limitations. They're called elections," he said.

Councilwomen Linda Martinez-Saville and Kris Coleman-Nicholl joined Fairbanks and McCandless in voting against the amendment. 

Barker was joined by Brooke Christensen and Zach Robinson in voting for the amendment. All three are currently in their first terms. 

Barker said after the meeting she wasn't surprised by the results.

"It was as I expected," she said. "The newer city council members are understanding where the residents are coming from and the longer term council members don’t want to give up their power."

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