WESTMINSTER -- Council President William F. Haifley thought he had support for term limits and a resign-to-run requirement for the mayor and council members.
He was wrong.
The four council members unanimously blocked an ordinance proposed by Mr. Haifley at their Monday meeting. The ordinance would have limited the mayor and council members to two terms, and officeholders would have been required to resign if they decided to run for another office while they had more than one year left in their terms.
Mr. Haifley denied rumors that the measure was aimed at Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, who has been mentioned as a possible County Commissioner candidate.
"In fact, if anyone, I'm the one most affected," Mr. Haifley said.
As the only council member currently in a second four-year term, he would have been barred from seeking re-election had the proposal passed. He said his concern arose out of observation of "entrenched" political officeholders at the national level.
Mayor Brown said he is "not running for County Commissioner. I have no plans to run for County Commissioner. In fact, I have no desire at this point to run for commissioner."
But Mr. Brown would not rule out a possible future bid for county office. The mayor said he did not understand what prompted Mr. Haifley's proposal. Asked whether he thought it was aimed at him, Mr. Brown replied, "I think I'll just leave everyone to draw their own conclusions on that."
Mr. Brown and Mr. Haifley have disagreed frequently.
Mr. Haifley circulated a written proposal in April for term limits and resignations to seek other offices, and asked for comment.
"Since April 13, not one member responded to my request. So I assumed [reaction] was favorable," he said. The council president said he was irritated that his colleagues did not reply to his request, "but then they wait until the legislation is drafted and introduced to shoot it down."
Councilman Kenneth A. Yowan said he opposed the resign-to-run provision because it did not treat council members equally.
Staggered terms would mean that the three council members whose terms expire after the state and county elections would never have to resign to run for those offices, he said, but the mayor and two council members whose terms expire before state and county elections would always have to resign to run for higher office.