When Tomball residents vote on propositions to amend the city’s charter on May 4, a proposition that would create term limits will not be on the ballot after Tomball City Council voted 1-4 against approval during a special meeting Feb. 9.

What happened

During the Feb. 9 meeting to consider the second and final reading of an ordinance to send propositions to amend the city’s charter to voters, Tomball City Council members did the following:

  • They voted unanimously to approve sending all propositions except Proposition F—which outlined term limits for City Council members and the mayor—to voters during the May 4 election.
  • They discussed and voted on Proposition F separately, ultimately voting it down 1-4, which means voters will not see it on the May 4 ballot. Council member Dane Dunagin voted in approval; council members John Ford, Mark Stoll, Derek Townsend and Randy Parr voted against. Mayor Lori Klein Quinn only votes if there is a tie.

The term limits proposed by Proposition F were:

  • Four consecutive full terms, or 12 consecutive years, whichever is longest
  • After reaching their term limit, a council member or the mayor would not be eligible to be elected again until they are out of office for one full year.

How we got here

Last September, Tomball City Council appointed a charter review commission that was tasked with reviewing the city’s charter and making recommendations on how it should be amended.

In meetings on Jan. 22 and Jan. 29, the commission met with City Council to discuss their recommended propositions, which did not include a proposition on term limits.

  • It was at the Jan. 29 meeting that City Council directed City Attorney Loren Smith to write up a proposition that would amend the charter to create term limits.

During its Feb. 5 regular meeting, City Council discussed Proposition F—which would create term limits—along with the other 17 propositions recommended by the commission. Council ultimately voted, on first reading, to approve all 18 propositions.

The city’s charter requires that ordinances be read and considered two times. It was at the second and final reading that council voted against sending the term limits proposition to voters in May.

Now what?

When Tomball residents go to vote in the May 4 election, there will be 17 propositions on the ballot that would amend the charter for reasons such as:

  • Bringing it into compliance with state law
  • Updating grammatical errors and misspellings
  • Replacing the term councilman or councilmen with council member or council members
  • Replacing pronoun-specific language with office- and title-specific language
  • Clarifying responsibilities of offices, such as the city manager, mayor and mayor pro-tem
  • Clarifying council’s role in approving city administrative positions
  • Adding a section allowing council to appoint council members to serve as liaisons between each board and commission

Those opposed

  • “I will be voting against term limits. ... It’s not our right to determine who runs for City Council,” Townsend said. “Voters should have that right to determine who they choose.”
  • “Our own review committee recommended no term limits after a lengthy debate. ... Why are we voting on a different outcome than they selected?” Ford said. “What will the next charter review committee or any other committee say about council so blatantly ignoring this committee’s recommendation? That our opinions don’t mean anything and the council’s going to do what it wants? I’m going to vote no on this. The end does not justify the means.”
  • “We’ve had people come and want term limits. We’ve had people come before us who do not want term limits,” Stoll said. “And I feel as though government is trying to take away one of those sides’ rights, where if I vote against term limits, everybody will still have the right to choose who they want. ... If they want them out, vote them out. So I will be voting no.”

Those in favor

  • “I’m still for term limits because everyone I talked to when I was running asked for term limits,” Dunagin said. “But I understand y’all’s point of view. ... You guys have got your opinion, and I’ve got mine.”
  • “We are here to serve the citizens, and we have all heard that they want the right to vote, whether it’s yes or no,” Quinn said. “So what we were trying to do was be responsive to what we have heard from citizens, that they wanted the right to vote for term limits, and this council is getting ready to say, ‘No, we’re not giving you that right.’ And that’s what this vote is.”

Learn more

View the 17 propositions that will appear on the May 4 ballot below.