Memphis lawmakers seek term limit extension 10 years after voters approved limits

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Some Memphis City Council members want more time in office, and they're going to be asking voters to approve it.

Memphis voters put term limits in place back in 2008 for the mayor and city council members, limiting each to two consecutive terms in office. Now council members want voters to allow them to serve three consecutive terms in office.

In the 2008 vote, more than three-quarters of Memphis voters approved the two-term limit.

"If you've had two terms, then sit out one and come back," voter Eloise Phifer said.

Phifer said she thinks two terms is enough for the city's elected leaders.

"I just feel like turnover is better and embedded people with long term-interests is not in the best interests of the city," Phifer said.

At Tuesday night's Memphis City Council meeting, 11 members voted yes to send a referendum ordinance to voters, which would allow city council members and the mayor to serve three consecutive four-year terms in office, instead of two.

Council member Worth Morgan was the only no vote.

City council members Bill Morrison, Ed Ford, Jr., Joe Brown, Janis Fullilove, Kemp Conrad, and Reid Hedgepeth are currently term-limited, in their second and final term. They would be able to run again if voters green light the term limit expansion.

The proposal has been debated since early December.

"The first term is a learning, the second term is legislating, and the third term finishing your business and passing it on to the next generation," council member Morrison said.

"I think it would be a good idea to put that on the voters hands," voter Desiree Nelson said.

Nelson said she voted against term limits in 2008 and believes good leaders should get a chance to stay in office longer.

"If they have done productive things while in office, and it's above margin than what is expected, I would expect that it would be a good idea," she said.

The referendum is slated to be on the ballot in the fall of 2018.

Spokespeople for Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he would not seek a third term if the item passed. Strickland is halfway through his first term right now.

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