Term Limits Wording Up For Debate in Big Spring

By Anayeli Ruiz
NewsWest 9

BIG SPRING - Controversy over term limits in Big Spring and it all has to do with wording on a petition that being put on the May ballot. The way it's being interpreted has the group who started that petition all riled up.

The Concerned Citizens of Big Spring circled the petition to put the issue of term limits on the May ballot. Now that it will be officially on the ballot, there is some controversy about the wording with the second sentence.

"It took a couple weeks to review it, to try and make sense because it had some conflicting language," Big Spring City Attorney, Linda Sjogren, said.

Sjogren has been trying to come up with an opinion on the proposed term limits. The petition only has three sentences but she says they're so conflicting, they need to be cleared up.

"The first sentence appeared to limit council members from running for more than two consecutive terms in their own position," Sjogren said.

"The second sentence appeared to say that a person could not be elected to the city council within two full terms of having served on the City Council. So that would basically nullify the first sentence because you would not be able to be elected to that second term. There would not be any reason to run for it, if you could not be elected for it," Sjogren said.

"I went ahead and made the opinion that sentence only applies to unexpired terms. Therefore, I was able to give full effect to the first sentence which limits council members to running for two consecutive terms but then they have to sit off one term," Sjogren said.

And according to the Concerned Citizens, that's not what they meant to say. They wanted two terms on the Council and two terms off.

"Our intent is basically to open up the political process for more players," Shanon Thomason, with the Concerned Citizens of Big Spring, said.

The wording of the petition and what will be in the May ballot cannot be changed by anyone. The city attorney says that she released her opinion to clear the meaning up a little.

"My intent is just to make sure that voters understand what it is before they vote on it. I wanted to give that opinion to the Council," Sjogren said.

But the Concerned Citizens say no matter the opinion, the issue is on the May ballot and it's now up to voters to decide.

"Our stance is, it's a real simple amendment. Just three sentences long. We wrote it to be simple and straight forward. We invite the citizens of Big Spring to read for themselves in May to decide for themselves, whether or not, term limits is good thing or bad thing," Thomason said.

Voters will have the ultimate say during the May election.

If the issue passes, then the interpretation will most likely be up for debate. If it's ever challenged, it could be susceptible to a ruling by the Attorney General or a court ruling.