Portage councilman's call for term limits disputed; constitutionality challenged

2012-08-28T17:30:00Z 2012-08-29T00:23:19Z Portage councilman's call for term limits disputed; constitutionality challengedBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Portage City Councilman John Cannon, R-4th, said he's delivering on a campaign promise.

Cannon announced during a news conference Tuesday at City Hall that he will introduce an ordinance at the council's meeting next week to limit elected officials to serving two consecutive terms.

"You can only assure a vibrant democratic process by preventing the same old, tired politicians from being re-elected only because they have name recognition and special interest groups' contributions," Cannon said.

Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham, a Democrat, said he consulted with both City Attorney Gregg Sobkowski and an attorney with the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, who said it is up to the state to determine term limits.

City Council President Sue Lynch, D-at large, said she was "a little disturbed" by Cannon's announcement because Cannon did not share the subject of the announcement with her or other council members. She admonished Cannon for not running the idea by the city attorney who could have told him the concept is not legal.

Cannon's actions, she said, is an example of the lack of communications between City Council members.

Cannon, however, said he did go to Sobkowski, who advised him it is not allowed. He then sought an independent attorney who had a different opinion and drafted the ordinance for Cannon.

Cannon said he believes adopting term limits is allowed under Article 2 of the state constitution and home rule.

"We have term limits every four years when voters go to the polls," said Matt Scheuer, D-5th, who also attended the press conference.

Cannon said term limits are necessary for representative government.

"The fact is that our citizens have lost the ability to effectively participate in the political process by running as a candidate without having to raise an outrageous amount of money," said Cannon.

Cannon said he believes the two-term limit will provide a "regular infusion of new energy, new ideas and new people who will fight to protect the rights of working families."

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