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It appears the ballot measure to limit Wilsonville councilor terms has been approved

After a combative election season filled with arguments on social media and political sign stealing, Wilsonville residents settled the term limits issue with their votes.

Early returns indicate the ballot measure that would prevent Wilsonville City Councilors from serving for more than 12 years in a 20-year period has passed.

As of Wednesday morning, the measure was passing by a margin of 63-37 with 5.845 votes counted.

"A lot of people who care about Wilsonville worked hard for this result tonight," said term limits petitioner Doris Wehler. "It was a group effort."

Since the measure applies retroactively, Mayor Tim Knapp, who has served in that role since 2009 and was a councilor before that, is barred from running for reelection this November and Councilor Charlotte Lehan, a former mayor who has served on the council for much of the last 25 years, can't run for reelection in 2022.

Term limit proponents believe the measure would encourage new people to run for office without having to go up against incumbents as often and foster a council that is more responsive to community concerns.

"I think we will still continue to be a thriving community," said Wilsonville Councilor Ben West, who supported the term limits measure. "The measure was balanced in a way that (we) won't lack the experience we need while allowing more diversity of thought and opinion to have the opportunity to help shape the city moving forward."

Term limits opponents, including Knapp and Lehan, viewed the measure as a power grab promoted by people who are unhappy with the city's policies on issues like density and the Aurora Airport.

Katie Hamm, the director of the anti-term limits political action committee Protect Wilsonville Elections, said experience will be lost due to the measure passing but said she respects the voters' choice.

"It's a disappointing evening but I respect the will of the voters and the community and this certainly doesn't dissuade us from our mission of bringing new people into government, citizen participation and continuing a vision of Wilsonville that's full of equity, equality, protecting the natural environment, a high quality of life and all the things we love about our city," Hamm said.

The result means Wilsonville will have a new mayor in 2021. However, Wilsonville Council President Kristin Akervall and Councilor Joann Linville have decided to run for reelection. The first day to file for candidacy is June 3.

"I'm really proud of what Doris and that team accomplished," West said. "They worked hard on a grassroots level to gather signatures and follow the process and then the people in the community, with a resounding yes, affirmed (their) hard work."

The Spokesman will update results as they are posted.

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