From Staff Reports
Columbia County voters this year might get the opportunity to decide whether to limit the time county commissioners could serve in office.
Under a proposal offered Tuesday morning by Chairman Ron Cross during a meeting of the county’s Management and Financial Services Committee, commissioners soon will discuss whether to send a formal proposal to members of the legislative delegation.
Lawmakers then could place a binding referendum on county ballots as early as July, allowing voters to decide whether to limit commissioners to two consecutive terms in office.
“We’ve been kicking it around three or four years,” said Cross.
“I’m in favor of term limits, though of course I’m not a good example to say,” he added. Cross currently is serving his third four-year term as the county’s first elected chairman.
Under the proposal, which would require approval by the full commission before it could be sent to lawmakers, commissioners and the chairman would be limited to two, four-year terms and then would be required to sit out for at least one year before seeking the same office again.
The measure would not apply to members of the school board unless lawmakers included them as part of the referendum. Those offices share the same districts as commissioners.
Currently, county commissioners, school board members and the chairmen of both bodies serve four-year terms, with elections staggered so that no more than three from each body are up for election in an election year.
“I wish we could do it with federal, state and local,” Cross said. “I think the public would be in favor of it.”
State lawmakers are elected to two-year terms with no limits on the number of terms they can serve. U.S. House members serve unlimited two-year terms, while U.S. senators serve unlimited six-year terms. Only Georgia’s governor, like the United States president, is limited to two consecutive four-year terms.