Richland City Council will vote at its April 7 meeting to effectively eliminate term limits for city board members. Board members can currently serve for up to 12 years but the change will allow the council to extend their terms indefinitely.
According to Mayor Ryan Lukson in an email, “The intent was not to set an arbitrary term limit if there was someone that council felt was a valuable member of the board and wanted to continue serving. The extension would have to be approved by council of course.”
It is hard to imagine the Council telling someone who wants to serve longer than 12 years “We’re sorry but you’re not a valuable member of the board.” Therefore, board members will likely be able to serve as long as they want, reducing the chances that other residents can have the opportunity. Extensions, like other board appointments, will appear under the agenda heading “Consent Calendar”, where the topic is listed on April 7. That section includes a list of items which are not discussed, receive only one vote, and almost always pass unanimously.
In addition to providing a forum for citizens to participate in local government, Boards are usually thought of as a training ground for future council members. Limiting the number of people who can serve on the boards will reduce that pool of people.
After the extensions are approved, board members will be on equal footing with the council members who usually serve until they die or resign. Since the City of Richland was incorporated in 1958, 69 people have served on the City Council. Only 10 of those failed to be re-elected.