How long should a councillor serve?

A Town Crier Community Column

At February’s city council meeting, Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon and I brought forward a motion asking for a city staff report on the merits of term limits for city councillors and the mayor.

It’s an idea worth exploring.

Turn out in municipal elections is notoriously low. Some literature suggests that term limits can boost voter turnout by increasing the number of open seat competitions and reducing the advantages of incumbency. They might also give civic engagement a boost by increasing the number of fresh faces and new ideas in the council chamber.

With two years at city hall under my belt, anything that might shake up the tone and culture at city council is worth a debate.

Our motion aimed to set the stage for that debate. It asked city staff to provide an analysis of term limits in other municipalities across North America, to report on the possible impact of term limits on public engagement and participation in Toronto and to detail a robust public consultation process to hear from Torontonians.

With city staff’s background and analysis, the stage would be set for a debate on the merits of term limits both inside and outside the council chamber.

City council referred our motion to the executive committee, where it will be taken up in the spring. McMahon and I will be working hard to secure our colleague’s support.

The early response from Ward 25 has been enthusiastic. If you haven’t already, don’t hesitate to let me know what you think about the merits of term limits for city councillors and the mayor by sending me an email at Councillor_Robinson@toronto.ca.


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Posted: Mar 14 2013 5:36 pm
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One thought on “How long should a councillor serve?

  • March 30, 2013 at 11:37 pm
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    The newest councillors need constant reminding or informing of rules during meetings. What would happen if everyone was new ? Do the new councillors appreciate their mentors?

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