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A third act for Jolanda?

Maybe.

CM Jolanda Jones

Jolanda Jones, who lost her at-large position 5 seat in last December’s runoff election, may run in next year’s elections to win a third term on Council — but this time it would be representing District D.

The seat will be open next year because Councilwoman Wanda Adams is termed out.

“I’m keeping my options open,” Jones said Friday when asked if she is running for District D, which extends south of downtown. She lives in the district and her family goes way back in the district, she said.

Jones would have one more obstacle than any other candidate who files for District D: The city attorney says she can’t do it.

Term limits call for a maximum of three two-year terms on Council. However, city law also states: “No person, who has already served two full terms, shall be eligible to file for that same office.”

City Attorney David Feldman opined last year that this precludes people from a non-consecutive third term. Peter Brown resigned in 2009 just days before the end of his second term in attempt to circumvent the prohibition and remain eligible for a third term. It didn’t pass muster with Feldman.

Nor would Jones moving from At-Large 5 to District D, Feldman said in an email Friday, “since a council member is a council member is a council member.”

Jones said simply, “Feldman’s been wrong before.”

I am, of course, Not A Lawyer. So, I’d like for someone who is a lawyer to explain to me the difference between Jolanda Jones and former Council Member Mark Ellis. Ellis was elected as Council Member in District F in 1999, re-elected in 2001, then after serving two full terms ran for and was elected to At Large #1 in 2003. The ordinance in question doesn’t have anything more to it than what was quoted, so I don’t know what else to say. Why Ellis and not Jones or Brown? I welcome your feedback on this.

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15 Comments

  1. joshua bullard says:

    i am not a lawyer kuffner-however,jolando jones doesnt have a snowballs chance in hell in getting reelected,however she would get some free press for her law firm,i wasnt impressed with her showing at city hall and there are some heavy weights that are running in d-and shes not one of them.

    joshua ben bullard

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    What about Michael Berry? Wasn’t he a District Council man and then at large before he ran for Mayor? Help me here. Clearly Feldman hates Jones. If I could underscore hate I would. The Mayor hates (wrong adjective maybe?) Jones. Both of them would say Jones is bad and wrong and stupid blah, blah, blah. I for one can see through there bull crap and I would love it if Jones ran. Sorry Joshua if she didn’t have that other lady who was used to split the African American vote she would be on city council now. Just my opinion.

    Paul Kubosh

  3. Greg Wythe says:

    A non-lawyer answer …

    The “two full terms” verbage was the complete and precise wording of Wright’s 1991 proposition. The limitation has to do with the word “file”. You can file for a third term since the filing period is in the midst of an incomplete term. You just can’t file for a third term if you’ve completed two full terms in the past.

  4. Paul – Berry was an At Large Council member when he began a campaign for Mayor in 2003, but he never actually filed for Mayor – he re-filed for At Large, though in a different position. Even still, that’s a different case – Council members can run for Controller and/or Mayor after serving three terms on Council (as Annise Parker and Ronald Green have successfully done, and Bruce Tatro, MJ Khan, Pam Holm, and Orlando Sanchez) have unsuccessfully done. The question is whether Jones can run for a third Council term in a different seat after serving two full terms. I think she can based on the experience of Mark Ellis, but maybe I’m missing something.

  5. Burt Levine says:

    Michael Berry ran for and won At Large Pos. 4 in 2001 in a December run-off with Claudia Williamson. In 2003 he started running for mayor in June and the VERY last day of filing instead filed for At Large Pos. 5. He did this because his friend Bert Keller who had been a twice elected District G Council Member was already running against Ronald C. Green and Sue Lovell to succeed Berry in At Large Pos. 4. Berry found himself in a general election in which he won handily against Dwight Boykins, Al Hoang, Beullah Shepherd and others.

  6. JJ says:

    Greg has it right. Sitting Councilmembers file for their 3rd term before they have finished “two full terms”. I am not sure why Feldman doesn’t think Brown’s resignation worked, though.

    This has nothing to do with Feldman hating Jones. (At least any more than any other sane, non-sociopath would be forgiven for hating her. I am very very worried about the mental health of anyone who can’t see what Jones really is.)

  7. joshua bullard says:

    paul kubosh-if my memory serves me correctly you wanted to bet me a thousand dollars she would win over my guy jack christie-me being a big kubosh fan i kindly declined the offer-factually saving you a g-note,your still on the hook for the -i drive you bye lunch grab,

    if u need a refresher, its all on the archives on this site,
    joshua ben bullard

  8. Mainstream says:

    So if I am following this, the difference between Mark Ellis on the one hand, and Jolanda Jones or the theoretical future Peter Brown bid on the other hand is that Ellis filed for a different council seat after 3 1/2 years on council, but without having already finished the second term, while Jones and Brown would be seeking a council seat and would be filing after fully serving 4 years and being out for a term or more. Is that the distinction?

  9. JJ says:

    It is an oddity of the proposition being put on the ballot by a citizen and having to use the wording that was on the ballot. Perhaps if the city attorney had drafted it, the wording would have been better, gone at the concept from a different angle.

    A judge could either agree with Feldman and force the city council or a citizen to propose a “fix” in the future (another city charter amendment) so that the Joneses who only got 2 terms can get a third. Or a judge could decide that he/she will allow 3 terms because that’s what the proposal and the voters back then “really intended” and the city council or a citizen will have to “fix” that ruling with an amendment if they disagree with the judge. I think the path on that one depends on what you think a judge’s role is.

  10. Whet Smith says:

    Greg is right. I have never seen another term limit statute worded like that, either.

  11. Laurie Robinson says:

    Just for the record…Laurie Robinson (is the person’s name)(me) was not used by anyone to split any vote in the at-large 5 City Council race in 2011. I ran because I decided to run. I have never been a pawn and never will be a pawn. Thanks

  12. Steven says:

    I think JJ would be SOL running in an at-large election but she could very well take an ethnically gerrymandered district. I would hope that any of the far more qualified candidates out there would step up first because the community as a whole really doesn’t need her type in office.

    Laurie, whatever your reasons for running, the net effect was the same. As such, the community owes you a debt of gratitude.

  13. TaShon Thomas says:

    Section 6a. – Limitation of terms.

    No person, who has already served two full terms, shall be eligible to file for that same office. (Added by amendment November 5, 1991)

    I’m not lawyer either (yet), but I believe that the loophole comes at the end. Feldman’s opinion was correct for Brown, if he was planning on running for re-election to his same seat. Under the current wording of the city charter any former term-limited city council member can run for city council again just as long as its not the same seat. So Jones can legally run for D, Brown could run again for another at-large seat or even district, and Ellis could also run again for At-large 1 since he only served for one term at-large 1. I seriously believe though we need to change the city charter to clarify this section to say if you served for two full terms on council you are prohibited from seeking any other council seat. The same should apply for all scenarios: mayor to council, controller to council, district to at large, at large to district, etc.

  14. Mainstream says:

    TaShon, I think you are mistaken. I think the “office” of city council member is the same whether it is a district position or an at-large, and so I do not believe someone who finished 2 or 3 terms in a district position can turn around and run for an at-large seat, or vice versa.

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