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Mission council discusses mayoral term limits

During her 2022 campaign, Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza asked the community what changes they would like to see, and a recurring answer was mayoral term limits. A year later, after discussing the topic with the rest of the council at the June 12 workshop, the city plans to move forward with the constituents’ request. 

“I thought it was a good idea so we’re bringing it up for discussion,” Garza said. “We’ll probably have a little ad hoc committee to go over some of those details. And of course, it will have to be on the ballot so it will be decided by the voters.” 

To add term limits, Mission needs a charter election to change the city charter. The mayor and council hope to have the item on the ballot for the May 2022 election, but they need to figure out the term specifics first.  

City Attorney Victor Flores researched the charters for the surrounding cities to compare. McAllen has three four-year terms, Edinburg has two four-year terms and Harlingen has four three-year terms during the lifetime of the elected official. Of the larger nearby cities Flores compared, Pharr is the only municipality that does not have term limits. 

Gonzalez Garza proposed a three-term limit for the mayoral position and no term limit for city council members at the workshop. The council only discussed the matter; they did not put it to a vote. The city still plans to form a temporary committee to flesh out the details of the term limits. However, the mayor said they will not begin the process until the fall season, which will still give them time to add the item to the ballot for the 2024 election. 

“Summertime is not really a good time to form these types of committees because families are away and people are busy in and out of town,” she said. “So the plan is to probably get something going in September once school is back on and everyone is back from vacation.” 

Mission’s longest-standing mayor was the late Norberto “Beto” Salinas, who served as the city leader for 20 years and still ran for the position twice more. 

Former Mayor Armando O’Caña, who defeated Salinas in 2018, stated that he planned to serve a maximum of two terms if voters reelected him. He wanted to add term limits to the city charter for the 2020 election, but ultimately it never happened, and he only served for one term.  

Gonzalez Garza, who defeated both O’Caña and Salinas in the 2022 election, said this item had been on her mind even before constituents asked for the change. 

“It has been something that I’ve thought about because most cities have a term limit, the bigger ones. And so I agree that it was a good idea,” she said. “And then the voters actually started recommending or suggesting that we consider it. And I think it’s always a good idea to get the community’s input and let them decide.”

The council agreed with Gonzalez Garza and said they would support whatever the public chooses. 

“I would just like to commend you and your spirit for even thinking of that,” Councilmember Jessica Ortega said to the mayor. “I really do think, as our leader at the helm right now, you could be like [the mayors] in the past, but you’ve chosen to decide on term limits and I’m with whatever the majority decides to do.”

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