The Rockville City Council heard testimony this week on two proposed amendments to the city charter, including one that would limit the terms of office for elected officials.
One proposal would limit a mayor's term to two consecutive years and the terms of council members to three consecutive years. The other proposal would provide for a special election should a mayoral vacancy occur during the first six months after an election.
Four of five residents who testified at the council hearing said they thought the proposal to limit the terms of elected officials would limit their right to choose who will represent them.
"This would not only take the rights of a public servant, but also would exclude the choice of the electorate who may wish to reelect that person," said Cora Alter, speaking on behalf of the Independents for Rockville, a nonpartisan group that has held a majority of City Council seats since 1972.
Richard L. Arkin, chairman of the city's Board of Appeals and a City Council candidate in November's election, said he believed that the electorate's choices "should not be restricted by an arbitrary charter provision."
Opponents also pointed out that there has been little public discussion of the proposal since it appeared on last year's election ballot as a nonbinding, advisory referendum question. At that time, slightly more than half of the voters who responded to the question favored it.
On the proposal to establish a special election to fill a mayoral vacancy, several residents told the council that such a procedure would be expensive and time consuming for the city.
The charter requires that a mayoral vacancy be filled by one of the four City Council members.
The city will accept written testimony on both proposals during the next month before the council acts on the amendments.