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Term Limits Defeated By Baltimore County Council

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

The Baltimore County Council killed legislation Monday that would have allowed voters to decide if council members should have term limits.

While the vote was four in favor and three against, it takes at least five votes to put a proposed amendment to the county’s charter on the ballot.

Councilmen Tom Quirk, Todd Crandell, David Marks and Wade Kach voted to put term limits on the ballot. Council Chairman Julian Jones and members Cathy Bevins and Izzy Patoka voted against it.

The council divided philosophically over whether term limits are good because they make it easier for new people with fresh ideas to get elected, or bad because they force seasoned, effective veterans out of office.

Quirk, a Democrat, proposed the charter amendment. It would have held council members to three four-year terms. If it had passed, it would have been on the 2022 general election ballot.

“All this legislation does is actually let the people themselves decide,” Quirk told the council.

Jones, a Democrat, countered that voters decide every four years who will be on the council. He argued term limits are a bad idea because they would affect the ballot choices for voters years from now.

“To me, the best people to make that decision is the people at that particular moment at that particular election and let them decide,” Jones said.

Patoka, a Democrat, proved to be a key vote in defeating the term limits legislation. Patoka said three weeks ago he was planning to vote in favor of term limits but changed his mind “based on what I’ve heard from constituents I have a high level of respect for.”

Kach, a Republican who had not taken a position on term limits, said Monday night he planned to vote in favor of the legislation. But Bevins, a Democrat, questioned him before the vote, about the 10 terms he served as a Delegate in the General Assembly.

“Do you believe in term limits?” she asked. Kach said he is conflicted.

“When it comes to giving the people the choice on this issue, I’m going to vote in favor of it to give them the option,” he said.

Marks, a Republican, sponsored term limit legislation in 2012 that also was defeated. He said Monday that his position is evolving on the issue because there has been turnover on the county council without term limits. However, he still voted in favor of the legislation.

“I’ve always favored giving the voters the right to make decisions on charter amendments,” Marks said.

In 2018, six incumbents ran for reelection. All of them won. In 2014, Kach and Jones defeated incumbents in their party’s primary.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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