WARWICK, RI — The Warwick City Council will ask the General Assembly to put new term limits for the Mayor and Council members starting 2025 on the November 2022 ballot.
Should the General Assembly approve the ballot question, voters will decide whether to change Warwick Mayoral term limits to two four-year terms and City Council members to six two-year terms.
Currently, the Mayoral and Council terms are for two years, with an unlimited number of terms voters can choose them for office.
Councilman James McElroy offered a motion to change the City Council terms from the five proposed in the original resolution to six two-year terms, which passed.
Councilman Jeremy Rix said that while he is not pleased with the legislation. “I think this is a move in the right direction. So I will support,” Rix said.
Councilman Ed Ladouceur said he’d prefer to see three four-year terms for the City Council, because he would rather spend his time focusing on helping constituents rather than campaigning. But he said he would support six two-year terms.
“We don’t have the final say on this,” Ladouceur said, noting the resolution sends the question to put it on the ballot to the General Assembly who will weigh in on whether voters ought to decide it on the ballot.
Councilman Timothy Howe said he agreed with an earlier speaker, who said during the meeting that the voters should, and do, decide the issue. “They are the ones who decide the term limits,” Howe said.
Earlier, during the intergovernmental committee meeting, Rob Cote opposed the term limits as self-serving and limiting the frequency with which voters could voice their opinion of the jobs the Mayor and Council members do.
“This legislation benefits you people. Not us,” Cote said.
Has anyone thought about the fact that if the Mayor or any of you council members runs amok during that four years that we don’t have the ability to voice our opinions to get you out?
‘I would think that if you drove around this city, you’d find enough of problems that you really should be addressing, as opposed to this.”
“I’m a firm believer in term limits and it’s called the ballot box. Voting at the ballot box. Mrs. Travis has been here for 20 years, you know why she’s been here for 20 years? Cause every two years her constituents go and they cast their vote for her. And if they don’t want her, gone. She doesn’t need term limits. Nobody does.
“How much more will you people be happy with limiting the voices of the general public? Maybe we should shut up. Maybe what would be a good idea, is to have the Seargeant of Arms with duct tape and duct tape our mouths so we can’t talk. Because that’s where this is going,” Cote said.
Rix attempted two other amendments to the resolution, first to change the Mayoral limits to six two-year terms as with the council, which failed. Rix also attempted to change the Mayoral term to four 2-year terms, which also failed.
Rix also pointed out that the only members of the public sharing their opinions about the change were to speak against.
“The public participation that I have heard so far is all three who have reached out were opposed,” Rix said.
After the meeting, Rix wondered about the intent of the moves.
“I don’t understand why the City Council is kneecapping itself both politically and in terms of losing institutional knowledge, with as few checks and balances as there are already,” Rix said. “Was it a bad thing that the people elected Steve Merolla, Joe Solomon, Joe Gallucci, and Donna Travis for so many years? I learned a lot from each of them,” Rix said.
The motion passed with only Rix voting against.
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