Voters approve revised term lengths, limits

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE – Following last week’s primary balloting, there will be fewer city elections in the future as voters approved a proposal to lengthen terms and impose term limits on elected officials.

A strong majority – 64 percent – of voters during the Aug. 2 primary election approved lengthening the current two-year terms of office for mayor, clerk, treasurer and city council members to four years, and to prohibit re-election after three consecutive terms. According to unofficial results, 1,886 yes votes were cast against 1,056 no votes – 36 percent.
Fewer than 15 percent – 14.28 – of the city’s 21,887 registered voters participated in last week’s primary election, with 3,125 votes cast in mostly uncontested county, state and congressional races. Two millage renewals for Wayne County Parks and the Detroit Zoo both gained strong voter support.

Language had been approved in February for the charter amendment, which has been proposed in various forms several times in recent years. Proponents of the change noted that the city is among the few in southeast Michigan that requires elections for local offices every two years.

City Clerk Janice Ferencz had proposed the adjustments last year and pointed out the cost savings to the city that average $37,000 per election. There have been several occasions where the local offices were the lone items on a ballot, including the summer and fall 2015 elections.

While the council agreed that the matter should be put to voters, opposing views included the longer potential time in office: The previous term limits had been for four two-year terms, and the now-approved cap after three four-year terms represents more total years.

(James Mitchell can be reached at