(Disclosure: Randy Slovic, author of TriCities Observer, has applied to fill former Councilmember Brad Anderson’s seat on the Richland City Council.)
An unusual set of circumstances resurrected for the fourth time a motion to eliminate term limits for members of Richland boards and commissions, and this time it passed.
Last month, when the council considered the motion for the third time, city attorney Heather Kintzley explained that the city charter required that a majority of the council, not just a majority of those present, had to vote for approval of the term-limit change. Only four council members out of six were present at the Aug. 18 council meeting, so the vote failed when only Councilmember Sandra Kent voted no.
For the motion to be brought up again, the side that prevailed — in this unusual case, just Kent — had to move to reconsider it.
That meant Kent had the power to table the motion when it came under consideration last week for the fourth time. She did not.
Kent said Sept. 1 that she was offering the motion to reconsider “for transparency and to give all the members a chance to vote on the measure.” Her motion to reconsider passed 6-0.
On the next vote, which was to eliminate the term limits, Kent again voted no saying that “council could re-appoint a person ad infinitum.”
Councilmember Terry Christensen supported the change. “Council shouldn’t have their hands tied,” he said.
Mayor Ryan Lukson agreed with Christensen. “Every once in a while, a unicorn comes in,” he said. “But very rarely does someone want to serve longer than 16 years. We use these people like employees to a certain extent.”
The final vote was 5- 1, with Kent voting no again. Five of 70 people who currently serve on the Richland Boards and Commissions have been appointed for at least 14 years.