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"We need new blood": Fort Myers advances new term rules for city council members

Posted at 9:08 PM, May 20, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla — New rules are being proposed for elected officials in Fort Myers, potentially changing key requirements for serving on the city council. The proposed changes aim to improve how the government functions, according to Mayor Kevin Andersen.

“We’re public servants, and we should all be working toward the betterment of the city,” Andersen said.

The Fort Myers City Council is pushing for a vote that would alter the terms of service and eligibility criteria for council members.

Currently, council members serve four-year terms and can be re-elected indefinitely. However, the new proposal would limit them to three consecutive terms, or 12 years, after which they must step down.

“We need fresh blood; we need people with different thoughts and approaches,” Andersen said, expressing his support for term limits. Andersen is currently in his second term and has not committed to running for a third.

“It shouldn’t be a career job. It’s about having a vision and understanding that as an elected official, your responsibility is setting policy and approving a budget—it’s not about the day-to-day operations of the city,” he added.

The city council is also considering increasing the residency requirement for candidates from six months to 12 months. This means that anyone wanting to run for a seat on the council would need to have lived in Fort Myers for at least a year.

Andersen believes this change will close several loopholes.

“I’m an optimist. I believe most people will appreciate that we’re looking at self-governing ourselves,” Andersen said.

If the city council proceeds with the plan, a public hearing will be held on June 3. The council will then decide whether to place the measures on the November ballot, allowing voters to have the final say.