It's a rare feat in recent years to oust a Miami-Dade County Commissioner at the ballot box -- these elected officials tend to hang on to their seats for as long as they want.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says eight years is long enough for someone to serve as a county commissioner.
"For years, I have tried to get before the voters a charter amendment for two 4-year terms," he wrote on his campaign website on April 25, 2011. "In addition to offering more choices for voters, term limits eliminate the advantages of incumbency, break ties to special interests, improve the tendency for elected officials to vote their conscience rather than engage in quid pro quo, and open the door to fresh thinking and new ideas. In short, term limits inhibit political careerism. One of my goals as county mayor would be to make sure an 'eight is enough' law is irrevocably put in place."
On Nov. 3, county commissioners voted to place a question about term limits on the ballot during Florida's Republican presidential primary on Jan. 31, 2012. The question will generally ask: Should commissioners be allowed to serve only two four-year terms instead of the unlimited tenure that exists now? The measure would also ban commissioners from outside employment and pay them $92,097 a year instead of their current $6,000.
The salary comes from a state formula based on the county's population. Commissioners will review the actual wording of the ballot question on Nov. 15.
The question only pertains to commissioners -- not the mayor, who already can only serve two four-year terms under the county's charter.
The vote passed 10-3. Commissioners Sally Heyman, Barbara Jordan, and Jean Monestime voted against the measure because they wanted it on the ballot in November 2012, when higher turnout than January is expected, according to a report in the Miami Herald.
Ultimately the voters could help Gimenez deliver on his promise to enact term limits for commissioners. The county has taken an important step by agreeing to place a question on the ballot. We rate this promise In the Works.