Councilman Diamond introduces term-limit legislation for city officials

It would limit elected officials to two terms total

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville city council member wants to tighten term limits for elected city officials, limiting them to two full terms, period.

It would apply to the mayor, sheriff, council members, school board members and constitutional officers.

Right now term limits at city hall and elsewhere in local government are capped at two consecutive terms, but the bill proposed by councilman Rory Diamond would limit officials to two terms total meaning they can’t sit out an election and then run again for the same position.

Diamond says two terms is enough.

“We need new blood, new people, new ideas,” he said. “Let’s have real term limits for Jacksonville.”

Diamond said Ordinance 123 will have a few weeks in committee and then a few weeks in front of city council. If it gets 10 votes from the council, the mayor would need to sign it and then, voters would get the final say on a change, with a referendum in the August primary election.

“Incumbents are incredibly powerful. They have all the networks, they can fundraise. They can overwhelm someone with new ideas and new blood,” Diamond said.

But longtime city official Jerry Holland said experience matters.

“I don’t know in any other occupation that we go, you know I want my doctor for eight years, but after eight years, I want a doctor who’s never done it before,” said Duval County Property Appraiser Jerry Holland.

Holland served on city council for five and half years, supervisor of elections for ten years, and he’s now in his seventh year as property appraiser. He’s filed to run for Supervisor of Elections again in the spring of 2023.

He says he doesn’t consider himself a career politician, but a career public servant.

But Diamond’s bill wouldn’t affect Holland’s ability to run for a third term as supervisor of elections next year. The change wouldn’t take effect until 2027 at the earliest, and Diamond says, that could be pushed back even more.

News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney said it’s unusual to see term limits like this at a local level.

“Term limits, in general, have become very common. This sort of limitation in local government is not especially common,” he said.

Diamond said it’s not about the person, it’s about the principle.

Diamond said he’ll likely have to push the effective date back to 2031 and is planning to submit an amendment grandfathering in current officials meaning the existing term limits would continue to apply to them.

He says those would be concessions in the hopes of getting the bill passed.

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I-TEAM and general assignment reporter