Memphis City Council votes "no" on term limits referendum

The Memphis City Council's vote on putting a term-limits referendum on the November ballot was time-sensitive.  City leaders had a unique chance to get this on the ballot in November and to let you vote on it, but they fought, and they disagreed, and in the end, the issue failed.

Councilman Jack Sammons told the bunch his constituents had been calling for it.  But the divide on this City Council over allowing Memphis voters to weigh in on city term limits was just too deep.

"It's the people's government!" said Council Chair Tajuan Stout Mitchell.  "It's not my government and I have trust and confidence that the people will make the right decision for their government."

"I think that a politician should always have the fear of the next election in them," said Councilman Brent Taylor.  Taylor made clear he would not support term limits.
"Those who support term limits are the ones who want to try to level the playing field because they have failed ideas."

Sammons pitched a plan that would have limited the number of terms city officials could serve and - he said - it would have lightened the load for the Charter Commission, likely to fight for term limits anyway during the next two years.

Charter Commission candidate Perry Steele had choice words for Council members opposed to the plan.  "Some politicians get so ingrained in their political office that it doesn't become the public's office, it becomes their office."

Council members instead voted six to six.  A tie.  And in the City Council chambers, a tie is a deal breaker.

"Bear Bryant said ties are like kissing your sister.  That's no fun for anybody," Sammons said.  And it means no dice on a city term limits vote in November.

One more vote and this item would have gone to the Mayor, who - himself - has already promised to veto it.  It would have then come back to the Council with just enough time to make it on the November ballot.