COVINGTON, Ga. - The Covington City Council formed a consensus during its work session Tuesday night to start the process to enact term limits moving forward.
City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said because term limits would require a change to the city’s charter, the council must petition the General Assembly to make the change.
“They (the General Assembly) will have to establish the term limits,” City Attorney Frank Turner said. “It wouldn’t give you the ability to establish term limits. They will either accept what you suggest or they could change it and they could give you the grandfather for your prior years of service or not. So there’s a little bit of a risky run.”
Turner said other cities have proposed grandfathering prior service and letting sitting council members start fresh with the term limits at the time it is enacted. If accepted, that would not penalize sitting councilmembers.
The council agreed to propose a three-term limit per office. Prior service as a councilmember or mayor will not count against anyone moving forward.
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston made the clarification that councilmembers could serve three terms and then run for the mayor position to serve three more terms or vice versa, but would not be able to move from the West side to the East side to serve three more terms.
Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams and Councilman Michael Whatley would be the only two sitting councilmembers who have exceeded or met the proposed term limits.