Term limits win overwhelmingly in two Broward County cities

Voting Population Concept
Easy to pass, hard to roll back, recent measures show.

While Deerfield Beach voters on Election Day rejected a ballot question that would have loosened City Commission term limits, Wilton Manors voters agreed to add term limits to their city charter.

Term limits came into fashion in the 1990s, according to Aubrey Jewett, a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. Voters usually approve them, but are often reluctant to repeal them, he said.

That certainly played out on Election Day. Changing Deerfield Beach’s term limits from two consecutive, four-year terms to three consecutive, four-year terms was rejected 73%-27%. Wilton Manors’ voters, meanwhile, approved adding term limits for their Mayor and City Commissioners. The vote in favor was 66%-34%.

Term limits were even more popular with Lake Worth Beach in Palm Beach County voters earlier this year. Limits that keep a Commissioner or a Mayor from serving more than two consecutive, three-year terms, passed with 83% approval last March.

Tom Terwilliger, who has run for Pompano Beach City Commission seven times, said he’s seen the same pattern far too often — he’d like to see term limits on a city ballot. Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin, is one of the longest-serving politicians in the area. He was first elected a Commissioner in 1998, served two years and came back in 2007 and has been on the City Commission ever since. He’s been re-elected twice in spite of being fined twice by the state Ethics Commission for campaign finance violations, the New Pelican reported.

“Once you are a Commissioner, developers and city contractors will fund your campaign to ensure that your opponent is not elected,” Terwilliger said. “You get a massive amount of money to run against your opponent.”

Terwilliger raised the second-most amount of money in the five-way race to represent District 2 on the Pompano Beach City Commission, but Election Day’s winner and incumbent Rhonda Eaton raised four times the $16,000 he collected for his campaign.

In Deerfield Beach, the Commission voted to put the longer term limits on the ballot because three of the Commission’s five members will be leaving, taking 32 years of experience on the dais with them. But this time the money was against the incumbents. Mayor Bill Ganz, who also served the maximum term as a Commissioner, and Commissioners Todd Drosky and Bernie Parness are term-limited and can’t run again in 2025.

Two political committees sprang up earlier this year to pay for door hangers, text messages and mailers aimed at convincing voters to keep the term limits in place. Broward Transparency United and Protect our Term Limits political committees spent $43,000 on this cycle. Donations fueling the two committees came chiefly from the Broward County Republican Executive Committee and Citizens for Law Order and Ethics, a West Palm Beach-based political committee that gets its donations from police unions, hospitality companies and other interests.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]

One comment

  • Seth Tyme

    November 12, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    “Term limits came into fashion in the 1990s, according to Aubrey Jewett, a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida.”
    Hardly. Term limits were the rule in the Articles of Confederation, the first organizing principles enshrined in writing as the nation was being founded. And term limits were implied by Publius, the anonymous author of The Federalist Papers, who said that a republic ought to have a ruling class the members of which held theirs posts for only a set period of time.

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