Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Wastewater board considering term limits

KEY LARGO -- The Key Largo Wastewater Board may consider limiting the number of consecutive terms a board member can serve.

Board member Steve Gibbs was expected to bring the matter up for discussion at the board's Tuesday, Sept. 4 meeting. Results from that meeting were not available at press time.

Gibbs, a first-term politician and former newspaper reporter, says he believes board members should be limited to two four-year terms with a four-year break before considering another run.

"Two terms is enough for everybody," Gibbs said, vowing if he wins re-election he would not seek a third term.

The discussion follows emails sent by activist Howard Gelbman, a supporter of term limits who is also pushing the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to limit their time of service.

Another first-term sewer board member is open to the idea.

"Term limits are something we need in this country," David Asdourian said.

There are pros and cons, he added, and the board would have to consider whether enough people are interested in running for the board in order to allow for a frequent changeover in members.

"You go to the meetings, you know what the turnout is," Asdourian told a Free Press reporter, noting the lack of public attendance.

Andy Tobin, the longest standing board member who is serving his third four-year term, said voters like term limits because it gives them more power or ease to remove someone from office.

"The public always thinks ill of commissioners who serve lengthy terms," Tobin said.

But Tobin says term limits might result in the election of people who lack suitable experience or knowledge of the issues.

"I don't think there's a problem," he said of the current board. "We have a nice balance of rookies and old fogies."

Having no term limits also allows for boards with greater institutional knowledge.

"Meeting after meeting after meeting, I have to remind staff of the reason we do things," Tobin said.

If the board decides to institute term limits, it would need to pass a resolution to amend the district's charter. That would then be given to state Rep. Holly Rachein, R-Key Largo, who would present the requested change to the Florida Legislature to be voted on in next spring's session.

The village of Islamorada and city of Marathon have instituted term limits.

jgore@keysnews.com

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