Proponents: GR term limits a ‘victory’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Supporters say “the people won” when they passed new term limits for City of Grand Rapids leaders.

“This is the people’s victory,’ said Rina Baker, who along with Bonnie Burke worked to get the measure on the ballot in what they called a grass-roots effort.

The charter amendment approved in Tuesday’s election will limit city commissioners and the mayor to only two four-year terms. That means that longtime Mayor George Heartwell and four commissioners will be out in the next three years. Only two commissioners are still eligible for re-election.

Some have alleged that Baker was motivated out of bitterness after running twice for city commission and losing both times.

She said that’s not true.

“That’s just a way to take away from the real issue,” she said of the allegations. “The real issue is the people wanted to be the one to decide if term limits were a good thing for the city.”

She said she isn’t interested in running for city commission again.

Heartwell told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday that though he respects voters’ decision, he still thinks they’re “a mistake.”

“I wonder if he really means it’s going to be a mistake,” Baker questioned upon hearing the mayor’s opinion. “Because he’s had his opportunity to serve for so many years and many good things have happened, but no one is that good that they can be the only one to bring about the service that is needed in a city.”

Heartwell and Commissioners Walt Gutowski and Elias Lumpkins will be term limited out in 2015, and Commissioners Rosalynn Bliss and Dave Shaffer will be forced out in 2017.

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