Members of city boards and commissions would be allowed to serve one more term before being ousted by term limits, according to a new Juneau Assembly proposal.
The Assembly, acting as the Committee of the Whole, decided Monday that members of boards and commissions could complete their current term, serve one more full term and then be required to meet the rules of the new ordinance.
The ordinance would require board and commission members to stay out one year after serving nine consecutive years. After that, they could reapply to the Assembly.
Other changes include language that says "up to two physicians" shall be members of the Bartlett Regional Hospital Board of Directors. The Assembly took language used for the Docks and Harbors Board and applied it to other boards as well. That language states that no port or harbors employees, their spouses or immediate family members may serve on the board.
The ordinance would not apply if there are no other qualified applicants at the time of reappointment or if a board member occupies a seat for which a specific occupation or expertise is required.
The proposed ordinance has divided Assembly members and generally is opposed by board and commission members. The Assembly voted 5-3 with Merrill Sanford, David Stone and Randy Wanamaker opposing term limits. Jeannie Johnson was absent.
Ordinance proponents say it creates opportunities for others to serve on boards and commissions while bringing in fresh ideas. Sanford questioned the lack of new members. He said 218 people are currently serving on boards and commissions and of them 156 are in their first or second term or serving while there is a vacant seat.
"We do not have a problem with turnover on our boards," Sanford said. "That's why I'm against term limits."
Stone said the Assembly isn't so busy it cannot evaluate board members' performance. It doesn't need term limits, he said.
But term limits are common around the country because they prevent the same people from making all of the decisions, Assembly Member Marc Wheeler said.
Senior member Jim Powell must step down this October because of term limits for Assembly members. He is concerned about the select few he says retain longtime membership on boards and commissions due to politics. Other qualified individuals should have a chance at those seats, he said.
A public hearing about the ordinance is scheduled for May 22.
Tara Sidor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org