I’m inspired by both American convention and our local history to believe that… MOST of a decade is enough time in office – and that 12 years is a little too much time… Well qualified politicians shouldn’t need years of on–the-job-training to be effective. When it comes to experience, we already have the wisdom of staggered council-terms to constitute a body of the more seasoned council members with fresher ones…
Excessively long term-limits mean that serious candidates for office will simply and strategically wait longer until the open-race occurs. It’s very typical, that incumbents under term limits face only minor-league opponents. The concept of a long-serving or career politician contradicts the early American tradition of the citizen legislator…one that is of, by and accountable to the people. I happen to believe that is an American tradition still worth defending today.
Term limits are a rough and imperfect tool, but they do help to insure turnover and a range of leadership and policy perspectives, also a government that is more representative and accountable to the voters – and not to campaign contributors, insiders or special political interests – I happen to like that idea.
The concept of political term-limits to goes all the back to the early Greeks. In the United States, it was our own George Washington who in choosing not to seek a third term in office, set in position two-terms as THE standard to follow for the United States. Following Washington, both James Madison and James Monroe – also adhered to the principle of remaining NO LONGER that two elected terms in executive office.
In fact, before the 22nd amendment, no executive had ever served more than two consecutive elected-terms in office, and for similar reasoning – 8 presidents, specially declined to pursue a third-term in office. In 1951, after a long national debate and civic dialog, the 22nd amendment, officially set two-terms – as the normal, equitable and proper limit in office for the president – our chief executive for the US.
In our own Pierce County: In 1980, the County freeholders came inspired with a resolve to make our government more open and accountable to the people and in that pursuit, they too set two-terms in office as the county’s norm… reasoning it to be sensible, without being too long…
That sensible reasoning has been our county norm now – for nearly 30 years. As recently as 2006, the duly elected Pierce County Charter Review Commission seemingly reaffirmed the original freeholders reasoning on the two-term limit, by choosing not to address nor to make any changes to the existing two-term limits in Pierce County.
Now… the opposition will point out that – Yes – the voters did extended term limits for the Assessor, the Auditor and the Sheriff. However, BEWARE – because those in support of Prop 1 would have you believe there is little or no difference here concerning the county council and executive offices… BUT there is a difference, a very big difference…
The duties and responsibilities of the Assessor, the Auditor and the Sheriff are mainly administrative in their nature. They are highly department focused, they are the daily managers of large blocks (hundreds) of career staff members – that are comprised of mostly non-partisan employees that truly appreciate non-partisan leadership, longevity and management consistency…
And don’t let us forget that along with that deal for a term limit change for the Assessor, Auditor and Sheriff offices came the very important switch to being neutral and non-partisan positions. The Assessor, Auditor and Sheriff positions are simply NOT the same as the Council and Executive, not in their function, their structure nor their purpose.
In fact, and in stark contrast, the Council and County Executive are very partisan positions, with very small, mostly partisan and politically appointed staff in their direct charge.
Very importantly the County Council and Executive are THE policy leaders; they are the ones that represent us… It is the Council and Executive that act as both the legislative and executive branches for our county; they make up the budgets, the policy and the funding choices and priorities for all of us – it is THEY that set our main course and they that determine the laws and policy directions for the entire county.
THAT is a very significant difference in both form and function… from the Auditor, Assessor and Sheriff.
It is also notable to mention that our own former auditor and the current county executive has publicly spoken against Prop 1 and does not support extending term limits either…
From the Greeks to George Washington, from the US Constitution to our own County freeholders, from citizens like myself and currently elected officials alike – American tradition and local consensuses shows us that when I comes to term limits – that TWO terms is the widely accepted norm and it remains the sensible balance.
Reject Term Extensions – Vote to Reject Prop 1.