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Arlington mayor, council get one more year per term after landslide win in proposition vote

A red and blue sign proclaims "Vote Yes! Smart Term limits for a strong Arlington." The bottom line of text is obscured by a pole, and the sign is posted to a chain-link fence.
Kailey Broussard
/
KERA News
Arlington voters approved a city-backed proposition that extends terms for city officials from two years per term to three years.

City council members and the mayor of Arlington will have an extra year in office per term. A city-backed proposition to lengthen terms from two years to three won the overwhelming majority of the vote.

The proposition passed with 83.63% of the 94,648 votes cast in favor of giving elected officials nine years in office per position in unofficial results. The change means an Arlington resident, if elected to council and as mayor, can serve up to 18 years in office.

Current council members and Mayor Jim Ross approved the special election following an email campaign that urged leaders to put the issue on the November ballot.

The proposition—and the email campaign—followed years of discussion about overturning the limits that 63% of voters approved during the 2018 election.

An unsuccessful lawsuit sought to throw out the election results in the months after the election. A controversial, city-appointed Term Limits Advisory Committee in 2020 recommended its own set of term limits.

Larry Fowler, who spearheaded the campaign and served as treasurer for the PAC Vote Yes for a Strong Arlington, says the change voters approved Tuesday evening will not touch term limits.

"When you're looking at it, you think, 'Golly, this really should be an easy decision. Is it good for the city to give our council and mayor more time to do what they put them in office to do, which is run the city?' " Fowler says.

Zachary Maxwell led the petition drive and campaign to enact six-year term limits. He says he is considering challenging the election results. He argues through his Facebook page Arlington Voice that the ballot measure can not legally change both term limits and term lengths in one election.

"As was done by our opponents in the aftermath of the 2018 election, we believe an election contest will resolve if Proposition A is legal," Maxwell says in a text message.

Asked about the possibility of a lawsuit, Fowler says he doubts the results could be disputed.

"All you're talking about is citizens got to vote. I mean, how can that be a bad thing if you put it in front of the citizens and let them decide?" he says.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability.