Despite opposition from residents, on Tuesday Richland City Council will consider for a fourth time eliminating term limits for Boards and Commissions. Board members are now allowed to serve 12 years with the possibility of a one-term extension.
Councilmember Terry Christensen initiated the proposal, according to Mayor Ryan Lukson.
At the last meeting of the council on Aug. 17, for the third consideration of the matter, Mayor Lukson moved to remove it from the consent calendar for discussion and a separate vote. Only four of the six councilmembers were present: Lukson, Christensen, Councilmember Phil Lemley and Councilmember Sandra Kent. Councilmember Brad Anderson had resigned before the meeting began.
Only Kent voted “no” and said, “Twelve years plus the possibility of an additional extension is enough for anyone to serve.”
Since a majority of the council must approve the change, the elimination of term limits is once again on the consent calendar for Sept. 1.
In a telephone conversation with the Observer, Councilmember Bob Thompson indicated that he supported the change to boards and commissions. There is no limit on council members’ terms. At the end of his current term, he will have served 27 years on the council.
Residents can comment about the term limit change at the Tuesday, Sept. 1 meeting that begins at 6 p.m. Testifiers must fill out a form before 4 p.m. Tuesday and then call in before citizen comments begin. The meeting is televised on Cable Channel 192 and streamed on City View Residents can also email the city council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The council first voted to eliminate term limits in a first reading as part of the consent calendar at their March 17 meeting. All the items on the consent calendar are approved with one vote.
Days later, Governor Jay Inslee shut down the state due to Covid-19 with instructions that local governments were only to consider essential business at meetings, since residents could not attend them.
Nevertheless, the council scheduled a final vote for its April 7 meeting. After people objected, the item was pulled from the agenda.
At the time Mayor Lukson said, “The council plans to bring up the term limit elimination proposal again when citizens can attend the city council meetings.”
Currently five members of the boards and commissions have served beyond their limit. Marianne Boring, the spouse of a member of the City of Richland Development office, has served the longest. When her terms are up, she will have been on the Planning Commission for 18 years and the Board of Adjustment for 20 years.