Council Corner: May 2022

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In Tualatin, being a councilor or mayor is a volunteer role that requires dedication and time to tackle a steep learning curve. Allowing Tualatin residents to serve two terms as city councilor and two terms as mayor can broaden the pool of candidates, as it allows individuals to gain enough experience to feel comfortable running for mayor.  

Currently, when a Tualatin City Councilor or Mayor is elected, the elected official can serve three terms for a total of twelve years maximum, regardless of position. The term limit does not distinguish between the two very different positions of councilor and mayor. If a Tualatin City Councilor serves two terms, they are limited to only one term as the Tualatin Mayor. Voting yes on measure 34-309 would allow a city councilor who has served two terms as councilor, to serve two terms as mayor. Failure to differentiate term limits between councilor and mayor can lead to high turnover for the position of mayor and loss of valuable experience, which could be detrimental to our city.  

A city council position is a jumping-off point into policymaking. It takes time and effort to learn the ropes and become an effective policymaker. In the first term, a city councilor spends many hours learning the basics of city government, including budgets, operations, and policymaking. In addition, councilors serve on regional committees, manage periodic crises (COVID, I-205 tolling, and controversial land use actions) as well as digest complex, ongoing matters like the future development of the Stafford area.   

In the second term, with a solid foundation of knowledge, a city councilor begins to become a familiar face at regional and statewide events and often becomes a specialist in an important policy area such as, water source and management, local and regional transportation, or council liaison to a regional or county government committee. Seasoned councilors mentor newly elected councilors to ensure a knowledgeable and well-functioning local government. The relationships and knowledge built up over this time allows a councilor to serve effectively as a mayor in your third term on the Council.

The Mayor of Tualatin serves as the Chairman of the Council, presides over the council deliberations, and is expected to have established relationships with other policymakers who influence and shape the future of Tualatin. The mayor is a different role than a councilor. It is important for our community to differentiate the term limits between the two positions and have the choice to elect a mayor who possesses sufficient experience as a city councilor. 

The specific change proposed reads as follows, with the revision appearing in bold typeface:  

Section 12a. – City Council Term Limits.
No person shall be eligible to serve on the City Council more than twelve (12) years in any twenty (20) year period, whether serving as Councilor, Mayor, a pro tem member, or a combination thereof, except if a person has served no less than two terms on the City Council, then that person shall be eligible to serve another two consecutive terms as Mayor. No person may be elected or appointed to an office on the City Council if completing that term of office would cause a violation of these term limits. The calculation of “years” shall include those preceding the passage of this Section, but shall not prevent any member of the City Council from completing a term of office that commenced prior to its passage. For the purposes of this Section, years of service on the City Council shall be calculated by first determining the aggregate number of days a person has served as a member of the City Council within an applicable window of twenty calendar years, and then attributing a year of service for every 365.25 days of service. This Section becomes effective immediately upon passage.”

Here a few more details about what the proposed change to the Charter does and does not do: 

  1. It does allow a person who has served two terms as a councilor and then one term as mayor to be eligible to run for mayor for a second, consecutive term as mayor;
  2. It does not allow a person who serves one term as a councilor and two terms as mayor to be eligible to run for a third, consecutive term as mayor – the normal term limits apply;
  3. It does not allow a person who serves three terms as mayor to be eligible to run for a fourth, consecutive term as mayor – the normal term limits apply;
  4. It does not allow a person who serves one term as councilor, then one term as mayor, then one more term as councilor, to be eligible to run for mayor for a second term – the normal term limits apply; and
  5. Similarly, it does not allow a person who serves one term as mayor and then two terms as a councilor to be eligible to run for mayor for a second term – the normal term limits apply.

Please join us in voting yes on measure 34-309 to ensure Tualatin has a balance of experienced governance to complement new leadership representing our beloved city.