Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Opa-locka voters to decide term limits on elected officials

Opa-locka’s City Commission will allow voters to decide in November if they want term limits for elected officials for the first time in the city’s history.

The commission approved a resolution to add the charter amendment to the Nov. 4 election after months of town hall meetings with residents and hearing a different plan from a group of residents that petitioned for their own amendment. The resolution passed 3-1, with Commissioner Timothy Holmes voting against it.

Mayor Myra Taylor first proposed a resolution for term limits at a February commission meeting, but delayed the vote to have a town hall meeting with residents and to get community input. Taylor and residents continued to stress that the proposal was never intended to target a specific commissioner.

“It’s nothing personal about any individual, it’s about a process, it’s about a change,” resident John Cook said.

Residents chose to propose their own amendment in May and began to petition for the necessary signatures. Taylor pulled her resolution saying that she didn’t want to go against the residents.

“The people have spoken and they wanted to tweak [the amendment] to be a little more specific,” Taylor said. “I want term limits in the city, so however it’s done I know it’s coming.”

The petition needed signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters in the city to be added to the ballot and as of July 14 more than 1,000 residents signed the petition and 767 of the petitions were certified by the Miami-Dade County elections department. Opa-locka has about 7,500 registered voters.

The proposed amendment initially said that no candidate could appear on the ballot for mayor or commissioner if they had served eight consecutive years. It also initially allowed for candidates to run for mayor if they were a city commissioner and vice versa without being restricted.

The version that will appear on the ballot removes the ability for a candidate to switch between positions after serving their eight years.

“After eight years all of us need to go home, you need to train somebody here and you need to have fresh ideas and fresh views,” Commissioner Dorothy Johnson said at the meeting.

The Opa-locka election will held Nov. 4. Early voting begins Oct. 20 and voters must be registered by Oct. 9.