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Boston City Council Votes to Extend Term Limits to Four Years

The Boston City Council voted in favor of extending councilor term limits from two to four years. 

The council voted in favor of the new term limits 11-2. Councilors Josh Zakim and Michelle Wu voted against it.

Voters wait on a chilly morning at Columbus Housing on Commercial Street (Photo by Matt Conti)

Council President Andrea Campbell, a sponsor of the bill, said two-year cycles are ineffective. They also cost the taxpayers more money. It is estimated that it will save the City $1.6 million dollars.

However, not everyone agreed. 

“We are cutting the number of chances people can run for office,” said Wu. 

Zakim agreed with Wu and said there should be more discussion on the issue. He also said the council should consider having elections on even years only. 

Wu also said a two-year term makes councilors more accountable and makes sure they get legislation done in a timely manner. 

Wu and Zakim’s advice fell on deaf ears, the rest of their colleagues believe four-year terms would actually make the council stronger. 

Councilor Lydia Edwards believes a four-year term will not stop people from running for office. 

 “They will come out of the woodwork and try to run, and I think that is a good thing,” she said. “A two-year term is not going to stop people from being here for 30 years.”

The council also voted in favor of a home rule petition allowing early voting in municipal elections. 

Voting lines wind around the block all the way to Richmond Street at Columbus Housing polling site (Photo by Matt Conti)

The bill must be approved by the state to become law. In 2016, the council tried extending term limits to four years, but the state never acted on the proposed change. 

Campell also presented another ordinance requesting a mandated special election for vacant council seats. Currently, if a councilor leaves their office during their during term, the next candidate who received the most votes gains the office. This is how Councilor Althea Garrison became councilor earlier in the year after Ayanna Pressley joined the U.S. Congress.

Garrison said she was against the measure. The council ultimately decided to withdraw the proposal from the agenda.

2 Replies to “Boston City Council Votes to Extend Term Limits to Four Years

  1. The Council’s vote is not to limit terms, but to amend a term from 2 to 4 years, which means a Councilor must run for re-election every four years.
    There are no term limits, just years of a term from 2 to 4 years.

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