The Sarasota County Commission voted 4-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 25, to advance an anti-term limits amendment with a required public hearing on Nov. 15.
Commissioner Joe Barbetta was the sole dissenter, putting his sense of fair play above his personal interest in keeping his position forever.
Barbetta told the Englewood Sun that the charter amendment and a new 12-year grandfather period "just does not pass the test with me when 74 percent of the voters out there want term limits."
The "preferential route" is to wait for and abide by the Supreme Court ruling, he said. "Our problem would be resolved one way or the other."
He's right. If the Supreme Court rules that county commission term limits are constitutional, as expected, Sarasota's existing voter-approved 8-year term limits would be enforceable. If the Supreme Court rules otherwise, term limits will continue to go unenforced in Sarasota County. The people have already made their decision, approving the current unenforced 8-year limits by 68 percent of the vote.
Barbetta went further to say that commissioners should have defended the law aggressively in 2005. Back then, the commission -- which did not yet include Barbetta -- voted unanimously to accept without appeal a lower court ruling that term limits were unconstitutional. Subsequently, the 4th District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the unconstitutionality claim in a Broward County case in an unambiguous decision.
Siesta Key resident Michael Figgins told the Sun that Barbetta "realizes what’s going on ... this county is in bad shape right now."