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Leon opponents of bill imposing term limits on Florida's county commissioners sigh with relief

The longest-serving Leon County commissioner was first elected in 1996
WFSU
/
WFSU
The longest-serving Leon County commissioner was first elected in 1996

Leon County commissioners dodged a bullet in the 2024 legislative session. One bill, which would have imposed term limits on all Florida’s county commissioners, died on the last day of session.

Backers of the bill had said it would bring fresh blood into office, while opponents said voters would lose incumbents who really knew their jobs.

County commissioners statewide came to Tallahassee to argue against it.

Jeff Sharkey, president of Capital Alliance Group, represents Leon County government. He calls the bill "a direct assault on local referendum."

“Constituents know," he said. "They’re plugged in. It’s not like a lot of the other preemption issues, which may not affect everybody in the community, but in this instance, vocal opposition, obviously -- just in terms of principle on home rule attack…”

He says the bill would have required counties to hold a referendum on whether citizens wanted eight-year term limits for their county commissioners.

“Many counties have already done that," he said. "Some have twelve-year term limits as well. I think at the end of the day, they realized, ‘Maybe we’re pushing this model on everything.’ And you’ve got very different counties with different structures. So, at the end of the day, I think the Senate said, ‘We’re going to wait on this and try to figure it out for next year.’ I think it’ll be back as well.”

Last year, lawmakers imposed eight-year term limits on school board members, down from previous twelve-year limits.

The longest-serving Leon County commissioner is Bill Proctor, who was first elected in 1996.

Follow @MargieMenzel

Margie Menzel covers local and state government for WFSU News. She has also worked at the News Service of Florida and Gannett News Service. She earned her B.A. in history at Vanderbilt University and her M.S. in journalism at Florida A&M University.