Hudson considers term limits for city council, mayoral seats

Legislators will soon vote on sending proposed charter changes to November ballot

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Hudson Town Hall. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

HUDSON — Voters may be asked to decide whether they want to change the charter to implement term limits for elected offices in the city.

City council member Chris Foster (Ward 2) has proposed restricting service in council and mayoral offices to two successive four-year terms, with an allowance for a partial term preceding the two full terms.

If the charter changes go to the ballot and are approved by voters, the term limits would take effect for the terms starting Dec. 1.

There are provisions that address appointees to seats and those who step down early from an elected position. If someone is appointed to finish an unexpired term, they would still be allowed to run for two consecutive four-year terms for council or mayor. If, however, an official resigns before the end of a term they were elected to, their shortened service would count as a full term under the proposal.

The terms are considered successive unless they are separated by a timeframe of four or more years. A person could serve two consecutive terms and then run for office again following a four-year "cool-down period," Foster said.

The way it's currently proposed, Foster said someone could serve up to 11 years, but not a full 12 years.

He noted that elected officials at other levels of government have term limits and added his proposal uses the same type of language appearing in the term limit provisions for state representatives.

Council member Nicole Kowalski (at large) said she was "nervous" about taking the choice away from residents.

"I do see the reasoning behind [the proposal] but I also value the opinions of our residents and I think if they want somebody to continue serving them, there's value in that, as well," Kowalski said.

Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3) said he backed the proposal.

"I'm of the opinion our governmental structure and framework was intended to have  a lot of turnover so codifying the turnover and forcing it I don't think is a bad thing," Sutton stated.

Council must vote to send two proposed charter amendment to the November ballot for voters to weigh in: One suggested change would be for council seats and the other for the mayoral office.

Foster's proposal had a first reading on June 1 and is expected to have a second reading on June 15. Foster told the Hub-Times he anticipates the proposal will go through three readings before council votes on it.

The deadline to place charter amendment issues on the Nov. 2 ballot is Sept. 3.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.