Voters in Johnston will have the chance to change the terms of office for the mayor in November, following the town council's vote on Monday night to request a referendum item be added to the ballot.
Councilors, at their meeting held at the , voted 5-0 to send the ballot item — which would change Title IV of the Town Charter to limit future mayors to two four-year terms — to Rhode Island Secretary of State Ralph Mollis for inclusion on this year's voting sheet.
Mayor Joseph Polisena, who recommended the change, said during a phone interview on Monday that the new terms, if approved by voters, would apply to him in the 2014 election.
"I think the time has come for term limits," Polisena explained. "I also think there should be limits for the General Assembly and Congress, but when that gets brought up, it doesn't go anywhere."
Among the reasons for suggesting the change, Polisena said, are the potential for mayors "becoming entrenched" and the need to offer stability to applicants to town department head positions.
"If you have an agenda to make the town better, then that's OK, but if you come in with a political agenda and become entrenched, it does worse for the town — this will prevent that from happening," explained Polisena. "Also, it's very difficult for mayors to hire people for town departments when they know they might not be there in two years."
The three-term mayor also said that imposing term limits "is another thing to check off the list of ways to make this town better — it's a result of me wanting to make positive changes to the town and leave the town better than when I got here in 2007."