Term Limits Won Big on ‘16 Ballot

By: Alannah NicPhaidin

In a divided and bitterly fought election year, there was one issue that had a 100% pass rate across the country on November 8th, 2016: term limits.

Over 40 different ballot measures across the country had a 100 percent pass rate for term limits. These votes were spread across the nation from California and Texas to New York. Hawaii even got in on the action.

These term limits ballot amendments covered school boards, mayors, city and county boards. Citizens also defeated initiatives that tried to weaken their current term limits.

Philip Blumel, president of U.S. Term Limits, said “the American people are tired of career politicians forgetting who they are supposed to be serving. This outstanding result for term limits is a real victory for the people”.

The 100 percent pass rate was unprecedented. In 2014 the pass rate was 97 percent, so bipartisan support for term limits is not unusual. Each referendum for term limits averaged 74 percent of the vote with a mean of 75.5 percent.

The support for term limits ranged from 88 percent in Crestwood, IL to 57 percent in Honolulu. The Honolulu vote successfully fought off a bill that would have weakened local term limits.

Americans continue to show a preference for citizen legislators over careerist politicians. These results demonstrate a growing belief that elected officials have lost touch with the people.

“It is no surprise, after this historic year for term limits, that action is already underway to slap term limits on Congress,” said Blumel.

2016 Term Limits Votes

Alabama

  • Lakeland voters approved two-term limits for the town’s board of commissioners and mayor. The Lakeland limits are two terms, consecutive or not. Lakeland also specifies that someone elected to a term on the Lakeland commission and a term as mayor has reached the two-term limit and is then barred from running for or serving again in either position. The Lakeland commission, in January, extended the terms of the mayor and commissioners on a one-time basis only permitted by state law, to get them off an odd-year election schedule. The move puts them on an even-year election cycle to coincide with the November state and federal general elections. The term limits approved by voters would take effect with those elected in 2018.
    • Yes 85.41%
    • No 14.59%
    • Term Limits Win

California

  • An education board term limit measure was on the ballot for Albany voters in Alameda County, California, on November 8, 2016. The amendment was for the city charter to remove term limits for the Albany Unified School District School Board of Education members, to take effect on January 1, 2023. It was not approved.
    • Yes 34.97%
    • No 65.03%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A measure to impose term limits on elected officials was on the ballot for Carson voters in Los Angeles County, California, November 8, 2016. It was approved.
    • Yes 36%
    • No 22.64%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A term limits measure was on the ballot for Coalinga voters in Fresno County, California, on November 8, 2016. It was approved.
    • Yes 97%
    • No 25.03%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A city governance measure was on the ballot for Goleta voters in Santa Barbara County, California, on November 8, 2016. Making the mayor a separate elected position, rather than being a city council member appointed as mayor by the other council members, and limiting the term to either two or four years, based on the preference of voters.
    • Yes 68.35%
    • No 31.65%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A measure instituting mayoral term limits was on the ballot for Menifee voters in Riverside County, California, on November 8, 2016. The vote was for imposing term limits on the mayor of two consecutive four year terms, after which the mayor cannot run for office again until after a two-year break, provided voters approve lengthening the mayor’s term from two years to four years. It was approved.
    • Yes 74.62%
    • No 25.38%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A measure to implementing a limit of three four-year terms for school board trustees was on the ballot for Orange Unified School District voters in Orange County, California, on June 7, 2016. It was approved.
    • Yes 86.59%
    • No 13.41%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A term limits measure was on the ballot for San Buenaventura voters in Ventura County, California, on November 8, 2016. It was for requiring that a council member who has served three full four-year terms must take a four-year break before running for city council again. It was approved.
    • Yes 81.93%
    • No 18.07%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A term limits measure was on the ballot for Simi Valley Unified School District voters in Ventura County, California, on November 8, 2016. It was for limiting members of the Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees to two consecutive terms. It was approved.
    • Yes 79.42%
    • No 20.58%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A city council term limits measure was on the ballot for Stanton voters in Orange County, California, on November 8, 2016. It was for enacting term limits of two terms for city council members, regardless of whether or not the two terms served were consecutive. It was approved.
    • Yes 59.38%
    • No 40.62%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A board of trustees term limits measure was on the ballot for Sweetwater Union High School District voters in San Diego County, California, on November 8, 2016. The issue was for establishing a two-term limit for members of the Sweetwater Union High School District Board of Trustees. It was approved.
    • Yes 85.54%
    • No 14.46%
    • Term Limits Win
  • A measure to enact term limits for city council members was on the ballot for Walnut voters in Los Angeles County, California, on April 12, 2016. It was approved.
    • Term Limits Win
  • Santa Clara, CA. Santa Clara voters approved term limits of two four-year terms on city council members and the mayor. It is a lifetime cap on tenure that tightens what had been a consecutive two-term limit. It was approved.
    • Yes 81%
    • No 19%
    • Term Limits Win

Colorado

  • Boulder County, CO. Ballot Question 302 to impose term limits on city council members. The measure asked whether the charter should be amended “to restrict council members to three terms in the person’s lifetime, which requirement shall apply to any candidate for council after November 8, 2016.” It was approved.
    • Yes 59%
    • No 41%
    • Term Limits Win
  • Fort Lupton, CO. Lupton voters quashed a measure to “eliminate term limits for mayor and council,” with 64% voting No. A few years earlier, the town’s voters had accepted a weakening of local term limits to three consecutive terms. Such lengthening of maximum tenure often serves as a warm-up for more aggressive anti-term-limits measures. It was approved.
    • Yes 36%
    • No 64%
    • Term Limits Win

Florida

  • City of Cocoa Beach Referendum – City Commission Member Term Limits. The vote was on whether or not Cocoa Beach should amend its charter to limit a City Commissioner, absent a break in service of 1 year or more, from serving more than 2 consecutive 4 year terms, excluding a partial term of less than 2 years, starting with terms commencing on November 8, 2016 for Seats 1, 2, and 3 and November 6, 2018 for Seats 4 and 5. It was approved.
    • Yes 81.25%
    • No 18.75%
    • Term Limits Win
  • City of Palm Bay Referendum 6 – Term Limits for City Council members. Charter to be amended to provide that no Councilmember may appear on the ballot for reelection if by the end of their current term of office, the Councilmember will have served, or but for resignation, would have served, in that office for twelve consecutive years.  It was approved.
    • Yes 80.68%
    • No 19.32%
    • Term Limits Win

Georgia

  • Marietta, GA. An advisory referendum to limit city council members to three terms in office. The proposed charter revision must be approved by the state legislature to take effect. It was approved by voters.
    • Yes 81%
    • No 19%
    • Term Limits Win

Hawaii

  • Honolulu voters rejected a measure to lengthen the maximum tenure of the prosecuting attorney, council members, and the mayor from two four-year terms to three four-year terms. It was not approved.
    • Yes 43%
    • No 57%
    • Term Limits Win

Illinois

  • Broadview, IL. A measure to limit the village present to two consecutive four-year terms in office; but the Illinois Supreme Court is in the process of deciding whether the vote will be allowed to stand. It was approved.
    • Yes 52%
    • No 48%
    • Term Limits Win – for now
  • Calumet City, IL. Calumet City voters limited the mayor to four consecutive four-year terms; the terms that are subject to the limit include any served as an alderman. It was approved.
    • Yes 65%
    • No 35%
    • Term Limits Win
  • Crestwood, IL. Crestwood voters limited the mayor and other town officials to three consecutive four-year terms. It was approved.
    • Yes 88%
    • No 12%
    • Term Limits Win
  • Harvey, IL. Harvey voters limited aldermen, the mayor, and other officers to a maximum of four consecutive four-year terms. It was approved.
    • Yes 85%
    • No 15%
    • Term Limits Win

Maryland

  • Approve of a change to local law that would impose a two-term limit on members of the Carroll County Board of Education. The limit would only apply to terms served consecutively. It was approved.
    • Yes 86%
    • No 14%
    • Term Limits Win
  • Montgomery County, MD. Montgomery County voters passed Question B—posted as a result of citizen initiative—to limit council members to three consecutive four-year terms. Since the measure is retroactive in effect, four council members are now barred from seeking reelection. It was approved. County voters also approved Question C. A council-referred measure to prevent partial terms from being counted as full terms for purposes of the term limit unless the incumbent has served at least half of that partial term. It was approved.
    • Question B
    • Yes 69%
    • No 31%
    • Term Limits Win.
    • Question C
    • Yes 79%
    • No 21%
    • Term Limits Win

Massachusetts

  • Charter commissioners Nov. 30 reaffirmed their commitment to imposing consecutive term limits on city councilors and the mayor. The commissioners agreed 6-3 on a 16-year limit for councilors and a 12-year limit for the mayor. School Committee members would be limited to eight consecutive years, as they are now. It was approved.
    • Term Limits Win

Michigan

  • Walker, MI. With 68% in favor, Walker voters passed a citizen-initiated measure to limit commissioners and the mayor to two four-year terms in office. The petition drive had been led by Walker Citizens for Municipal Term Limits, which stated that it had been inspired by the passage of term limits in Grand Rapids in 2014. It was approved.
    • Yes 68%
    • No 32%
    • Term Limits Win

New York

  • Albany City Charter to be amended to remove term limits for the Albany Unified School District School Board of Education Members, this provision to take effect on January 1, 2023?
    • Yes 34.28%
    • No 65.72%
    • Term Limits Win

Ohio

  • Kettering, OH. Issue 36, a council-referred measure to lengthen city council term limits from two four-year terms to three four-year terms. It was not approved. Issue 31 requires council members to maintain the term limits passed in 2012 and prohibits them from proposing charter revisions that affect those term limits. It was approved.
    • Issue 36
    • Yes 40%
    • No 60%
    • Term Limits Win
    • Issue 31
    • Yes 64%
    • No 36%
    • Term Limits Win

Oregon

  • Tualatin term limits. The measure caps the time City Council members — including the mayor — can serve to 12 years in a 20-year period. The city’s current mayor, Lou Ogden, has served in his position since 1994. It was approved.
    • Yes 64%
    • No 38%
    • Term Limits Win

Pennsylvania

  • Malvern Borough, PA. Malvern residents affirmed a clarified two-term consecutive limit on the tenure of Malvern Borough Council members. The limit had already been part of the home rule charter adopted in 2008. It was approved.
    • Yes 85%
    • No 15%
    • Term Limits Win

Rhode Island

  • Westerly, RI. Impose two-term limits on town councilors (Question 10). Impose two-term limits planning and zoning board members (Question 11). Impose two-term limits school committee members (Question 12). All three were approved.
    • Question 10
    • Yes 71%
    • No 29%
    • Term Limits Win
    • Question 11
    • Yes 77%
    • No 23%
    • Term Limits Win
    • Question 12
    • Yes 73%
    • No 27%
    • Term Limits Win

Texas

  • Proposition No. 1 amends the Charter by adding section 3.01A, which would limit the Mayor and Council members to two consecutive terms, and would provide that no person should serve more than 12 consecutive years in combination as a Council member and Mayor without a one term (3 year) break in service. It was approved.
    • Yes 85%
    • No 15%
    • Term Limits Win

Washington

  • Monroe City, WA. In 2011, after an advisory vote strongly favored council term limits—with 76% of Monroe City voters approving the question—council members unanimously imposed eight-year limits on themselves. Because the limits is an ordinance, the council has the power to unilaterally repeal the limits if it chooses without taking the question to a ballot. This is what it is now thinking of doing. Councilman Jim Kamp says that although he doesn’t like term limits either, “If we want to get rid of term limits, I think it should go to ballot as an advisory vote.” It was approved. 
    • Advisory vote in 2011
    • Yes 76%
    • No 24%
    • Council vote 2016
    • 100% yes
    • Term Limits Win
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