Grapevine: Term limits vote in May for City Council, Mayor

The deadline is in early February for the Grapevine City Council to call an election asking voters whether they want term limits for the mayor and council members.

The council in October verified the signatures of nearly 1,500 Grapevine residents on a petition to put the issue before voters.

The petition was submitted by resident Kathleen Thompson, who ran unsuccessfully against longtime Councilman Roy Stewart in May 2011.

After that election, Thompson, a Democrat, was approached by Julie McCarty of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, who was interested in seeing term limits in Grapevine.

Together, they attracted a bipartisan group of supporters to gather the signatures to get the item on a ballot as an amendment to the city charter. The verification was too late to get on the November ballot, so the item would be included in the May election.

"This is nothing against Mayor [William D.] Tate or any of the other council members; there's nothing sinister about wanting new ideas and new blood on the council," Thompson said. "I think there are hundreds if not thousands of Grapevine residents who are bright and have a lot to offer, and I'd like to see a more level playing field."

Petitioners looked at the charters of cities throughout Tarrant, Dallas, Collin and Denton counties, and settled on plans to promote a three-term — nine-year — limit.

If the city charter amendment were approved:

  • Current members of the council could be each re-elected to serve three more consecutive terms
  • An elected official could serve three terms as a council member and three more, consecutively, as mayor (or vice versa)
  • An elected official could serve unlimited terms as long as it was in three-term sets with a year off in between

Mayor William D. Tate was elected to the council in 1972 and has served as mayor since 1973, with the exception of a term off from 1985 to 1988.

Among those on the Grapevine council now, the average tenure is more than 18.5 years. Councilmen Chris Coy and Mike Lease are on their second terms; Stewart and Councilwoman Darlene Freed have served since the late '90s. Shane Wilbanks and Sharron Spencer have been on the council since 1985.

Grapevine's longtime leaders say consistency helps achieve long-term goals and that elections serve as term limits; Spencer and Wilbanks both ran unopposed this spring and Tate beat his opponent with more than 80 percent of the vote.

Cities can amend their charters every two years — Grapevine has not amended its charter since 1992.