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Minot City Council rejects term limits

Minot voters to determine when time to go

The only term limits for Minot City Council members will be imposed by voters. The council voted 2-5 on Monday to reject a proposed ordinance that would have limited council members to no more than three successive terms. Someone who served as mayor as well as an alderman could serve four successive terms.

Council member Lisa Olson raised concern based on research showing term limits impede a woman’s ability to be elected and discourage women from running for office.

“But more importantly than that, I think that we’re taking away people’s choice,” Olson said. “If we take away that choice, I think we’re making a mistake. I think it’s up to the voters to determine how long someone should be sitting in one of these seats.”

Terms limits had been proposed by former council members prior to reorganization of the council with new members.

One new member, council member Carrie Evans, moved to postpone action indefinitely, which she later withdrew after other council members showed little support for that option.

“I really think this is a solution in search of a problem,” Evans said. “I look around and I don’t see a lot of entrenched elected officials on this body.”

She said previously reducing the council size from 14 to 6 was meant in part to increase election choices and encourage more people to run, and it appears to be working.

Another new member, Tom Ross, supported term limits.

“It’s part of our responsibility as council members to, I guess, kind of recruit and open the door. I think it sends a message to our citizens that we’re willing to step aside at some point, that we’re not career politicians, that we’re not going to be a part of what I hear on social media as the ‘good old boy club,'” Ross said.

“As a council, this is the first step we can take to bring more people in and then we have to invite people to the table, invite people to run, encourage people to run and support them when they make that decision,” said council member Paul Pitner, who joined Ross in voting for term limits.

Council member Mark Jantzer said term limits can be restrictive.

“There is no guarantee that by making people leave office that you get better people that will step up and run. You might. But you might not,” he said.

Jantzer is the longest serving council member, having been first elected in 2008. Olson has served since 2010. Stephan Podrygula served two nonconsecutive four-year terms prior to 2008 and has been on the council since 2016 either by election or appointment. Pitner was elected in 2018 and Ross and Evans this past June. Mayor Shaun Sipma was elected 2018 after serving two years on the council.

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