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Woodstock Moves Forward With Term Limits

The Woodstock City Council voted to ask its state legislators to impose term limits.

The Woodstock City Council approved a request for its state legislators to impose term limits on elected officials.

The council voted 4-1, with council member Liz Baxter opposing, to ask the Cherokee legislative delegation to consider the city's request, which would require altering the city's charter. Council member Randy Brewer was not present.

The city's resolution would support the state legislature amending the charter to allow the mayor or council member to serve no more than four, consecutive four-year terms in their respective positions. It would also prohibit a person serving as mayor and then council member or vice versa if the combined years of service reaches four terms.

However, the proposal does allow for some leeway. If during the period of qualifying for a term-limited elected official spurs no one to formally declare their candidacy by the end of the qualifying period, the city will open qualifying for another two weeks and the elected official who was originally barred from running for another term can qualify for the seat.

If that person is elected, the term limits would not apply to that candidate.

Council member Bud Leonard noted he'd hope every level of government would follow the city's lead. While Councilman Chris Casdia voted in favor of the resolution, he added he felt the four term cap was too long. 

While the city did vote to approve the resolution, the Cherokee legislative delegation's rules require a unanimous approval by local governing bodies on resolutions they want the delegation to consider.

The city proposed the same change to its city charter to be considered during the 2011 Georgia legislative session, but the measure did not get the required unanimous support by the Cherokee legislative delegation to be brought to the full general assembly. 

Council members were more divided on another resolution it wants the delegation to consider. The council voted 3-2, with Baxter and Casdia opposing, to approve a resolution asking the delegation to consider legislation allowing all traffic tickets written on Interstate 575 in the city's jurisdiction be heard in its municipal court. 

Casdia said he'd wanted to discuss the matter further during the city's retreat early next year. He asked if this would take away police resources from the downtown area, which Police Chief Cal Moss said the change would not.

Currently, all traffic citations written by Woodstock police officers are heard in Cherokee County State Court and Moss said officers currently have to travel to Canton when traffic tickets they write are heard in state court.

Council member Bob Mueller had a blunt question in response to Casdia's concerns. 

"Why give somebody else the money when we are doing the job?" he asked.  

The city of Ball Ground last year requested a similar change. The general assembly passed the measure and it was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. 

Ball Ground City Manager Eric Wilmarth said the change went into effect on June 1 and has so far five tickets have been handled in the city's municipal court. 

"It was never an issue of revenue, "he added. "It was simply the issue of our court having the same authority as any other municipal court in Georgia."

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