The Lead

Philly Councilmember Alan Domb floats term limits bill

By: - February 12, 2022 6:30 am

At-large Philadelphia City Councilman Alan Domb (Photo via The Philadelphia Tribune)

By Brian Saunders

PHILADELPHIA — Members of Philadelphia City Council would be limited to four, four-year terms under a proposal that’s now being circulated by at-large Councilmember Alan Domb.

Domb said Thursday that the limits would allow   for new and innovative representation within council. He requested that the legislation be put on the May 2022 primary election ballot.

“I believe that if we’re truly going to be a progressive City Council, we owe it to everyone we represent in this city to finally adopt term limits,” Domb said. “Elections are really not term limits, especially when we see 15% to 25% of the people vote. But one way to overcome a lack of voter engagement is to encourage turnover and a modern look at fresh candidates on a regular basis.”

Domb said other big cities such as Chicago and New York are adopting term limits and creating a more efficient and transparent government.

“Furthermore, we know term limits are effective. Look at officials in our higher state offices,” Domb said. “Our attorney general, auditor general and governor have been widely successful with their agendas — and they only have two terms to make an impact. Additionally, many municipal officials are held to term limits.

“I urge my colleagues to support this resolution and allow voters to decide in the upcoming election.”

In other business, At-large Councilmember Isaiah Thomas’ resolution authorizing hearings exploring sustainable solutions for the treatment of Philadelphia streets during winter weather was passed Thursday.

“Preparing our streets for inclement weather is vital to the safety of Philadelphia residents,” Thomas said. “But it doesn’t have to be at the expense of the safety of our environment. I look forward to hearing from sustainability experts and advocates to explore alternative methods for safe roads and a healthy Philadelphia environment.”

Some of these alternative methods include using beets instead of brine and salt on the city’s roadways during winter weather.

During speeches given by minority leaders, At-large Councilmember David Oh spoke on behalf of a mother living in constant fear for her and her children’s lives.

This mother was targeted by gunfire, and her daughter has been constantly beaten up at school due to another one of her children stepping forward as a witness in a gun violence case.

“This is a relocation issue,” Oh said. “You have to move the entire family. We cannot move the student to a school because the mother and her other children have not been moved. And it is difficult to coordinate all of this around the system dealing with placing people temporarily for testimony. There has to be a completely new system. It cannot be done by the same people. It has been a failure in this city.”

The mother obtained a gun for her safety, Oh said. And because of the difficulties this woman has had, he said four other mothers he was scheduled to meet with have backed off from being witnesses to crimes.

Councilmember Curtis Jones, D-4th District, said that fear of retaliation is a big reason witnesses are not testifying against shooters in gun violence cases.

“We have to rethink how important witness protection is in the pursuit of justice,” Jones said.

Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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