Term-limit bill DOA in Philadelphia City Council

Philadelphia City Council members listen to hear testimony during a hearing on workplace issues. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council members listen to hear testimony during a hearing on workplace issues. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A measure to limit terms of new members of Philadelphia City Council appears dead on arrival.

City Councilman Allan Domb proposed that Council members elected this year and beyond should be limited to three four-year terms.

“It makes officials have a deadline of 12 years maximum — and accomplish specific goals in that timeframe,” he said. “It also, I believe, will allow for competition and more competitive elections.”

Just minutes after Domb announced he would introduce the bill, veteran politicians spoke out against it. Councilman Curtis Jones said it takes multiple terms to understand how to get things done in Council.

Eventually, “the process slows down enough for you to catch your breath and know when to assert yourself and when to just listen and allow the issues to frame themselves,” Jones said.

Term limits are unnecessary, said Councilman David Oh, pointing out that voters can unseat anyone who’s doing a bad job.

“Every four years, the voters get a chance,” he said.

Domb had counted on Councilman Bill Greenlee’s support, but Greenlee opposes term limits. Council incumbents are defeated on a regular basis, he said.

“I am 100 percent against term limits, I think we have them already … they are called elections,” he said, mentioning several former colleagues voted out of office.

“People decided to go the other way, but, by the same token, if the people think their elected official is doing a good job, they’re right here, they have the right to keep that person here,” said Greenlee who plans to retire rather than seeking a fourth Council term.

An informal survey of  Council members indicates that Domb doesn’t have enough support for the resolution to become reality.

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