By BRADLEY OLSON
The Houston City Council surprised Mayor Annise Parker Wednesday and rejected a proposal to change the terms to which city officials are elected from three, two-year terms to two, four-year terms.
The seven council members who voted against the charter amendment, which would have been put to voters on the November ballot, said they did not see a need for it and did not believe it would pass without an advocate to champion the change.
While the mayor and many on council said they oppose term limits, some said they thought this proposal did not make the right changes and would make it difficult to debate the matter in the future.
Councilman Stephen Costello said he did not want to appear self-serving by casting a vote that could extend his time in office.
“I’m against term limits, and I always have been against term limits,” Costello said. “Term limits exist at the ballot box.”
Parker declared the proposal, which was made by a commission appointed by former Mayor Bill White and City Council last year, all but dead.
She said after the vote that she had decided not to lobby council members one way or the other on the matter, believing four-year terms would be better than what exists now, but an incomplete solution.
“I’ve been agnostic on this,” she said. “It was not something I wanted to put a whole lot of political capital in.”
The measure failed on a 7-7 vote, with Councilwoman Jolanda Jones absent for a family obligation. Council members Costello, Anne Clutterbuck, Ed Gonzalez, James Rodriguez, Sue Lovell, Melissa Noriega and C.O. Bradford voted against the amendment. Parker, Brenda Stardig, Jarvis Johnson, Wanda Adams, Mike Sullivan, Al Hoang and Oliver Pennington voted for it.