July 29, 2002
Term limits sanity

A local conservative Republican activist is seeing a change in attitude towards the idea of term limits. Term limits had been a rallying cry for GOP activists in the early to mid 1990s, but even then some people questioned their wisdom:

[Bill] Borden is one of a growing number of conservative Republicans in the Houston area who now oppose term limits as an intrusion into voters' rights.

"The truth is, term limits haven't helped Houston or anyplace else," Borden says. "It hasn't helped do anything but create problems."

Borden converted longer ago than most. He was silent a decade ago, when Clymer Wright proposed that voters limit Houston's elected city officials to three 2-year terms.

He had been a term-limits supporter for much of the 1980s. Borden and others held that periodically replacing elected officials would refresh and reshape government.

But by 1991, when voters approved Wright's referendum, Borden was talked out of the position by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.

"Tom always argued that it's not right to restrict who a voter can vote for," Borden said. "By 1990, I agreed with him. The truth is, term limits was a position many Republicans held to get Democrats out of office."

Clymer Wright, the driving force behind Houston's moronic term limits law, dismisses Borden's feelings on the subject by saying Borden's gotten "more liberal" as he gets older. Yeah, sure, Clymer. Is that also true of Tom DeLay?

Given the politics, it may take a Republican mayor to lead the charge against term limits here. I hate dilemmas like that. Hey, Joe Roach, what's your position on this?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 29, 2002 to Local politics

I've never been a big fan of term limits. When I wrote a column against it for the conservative Houston Review, I was curious how well it would go over. Surprisingly, a number of die-hard Republicans agreed with me (this was while Lee Brown was mayor, too). In fact, the only defense I ran in to was that Houston's term limits helped make party affiliations more clear, which I don't consider a benefit at all.


Posted by: R. Alex on July 29, 2002 2:41 PM

The Chronicle has always been very much against term limits, so it doesn't surprise me that it has printed a hit piece against them. Although there is some disagreement within the GOP on the issue, public support for term limits still remains strong.

I could just as easily identify a couple of Democrats that support school vouchers (i.e. Rep. Ron Wilson) along with some man-on-the-street, and pen an equally misleading article.

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on July 29, 2002 6:03 PM

This was an opinion piece (John Williams has a regular Monday column), not a news story.

It's true the Chron has always opposed term limits. That's because they're a dumb idea. Watch me agree with Tom DeLay here: Term limits restrict my right to vote for who I want to vote for.

Sorry, Owen. I like taking pot shots at the Chron as much as the next guy, but there's nothing nefarious here.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on July 29, 2002 6:50 PM

Well, I support term limits to some degree (they have good and bad effects), but my real issue was simply with Williams's reasoning, which is largely faulty. I've posted my objections here.

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on July 29, 2002 8:17 PM