At a time when some constituents of Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Schellenberg are hopping mad at him over a zoning issue, a bill authorizing a referendum seems like an interesting play.
And yet, that’s what Schellenberg seeks — with a bill in committees on Tuesday (Rules and Finance), a measure which would allow a third term, if approved by referendum, for the city’s constitutional officers, School Board members, and — yes — City Councilors like Schellenberg.
This debate has happened before, but for various logistical reasons, Council never pulled the trigger and authorized the measure.
In 2016, the concept hit Council committees for the first time.
Schellenberg expected “all 19 members” of Council to sell this as they did the 1/2 cent sales tax.
“We are the principal people behind these things. We understand why it’s done,” and “if you extend from two to three, it will actually save the city money” and be more “efficient.”
At that point, Schellenberg wanted to include the current group.
“We have to wait 7 years for a whole new generation of people,” Schellenberg said, if the bill doesn’t include current Council members.
The legislation cleared committees in 2016, but was pulled, as the referendum would have competed with the pension reform referendum on the August ballot, and the Best Bet slots referendum on the November ballot.
With those referendums in the rear view mirror, it became clear to bring back the bill.
The bill was brought back to committee this summer with a substitute. The sub proposed three four-year terms, rather than the abolishment of term limits.
Not everyone was exactly sold.
“In four years, do we change it to four, maybe,” Council VP John Crescimbeni quipped.
Councilman Tommy Hazouri wanted an amendment to exempt current office holders, and vowed to introduce it at a time of his choosing.
Councilman Greg Anderson said he’d vote in favor of the sub, but not in favor of the bill.
“We owe [Schellenberg] the opportunity to make his case,” Anderson said.