Two for terminating term limits
Outgoing City Council member Carol Alvarado joins Chris Bell in advocating an end to term limits in Houston.
Think about it. The city is responsible for providing protection for the millions that work, live in and visit our city every day. We make sure that they can get around our city with relative ease on our roads and streets. We pick up their garbage. We make their parks attractive destinations for families and visitors. We provide Houstonians with an infrastructure that allows them to take full advantage of our entertainment venues like the finest restaurants, theaters, cinemas and sports venues. We have constructed great airports that make it easy for folks to get in and out of our city with minimal hassles.
Yet, something is a bit out of kilter when the leadership of the most important government entity in the region is being hamstrung by term limits -- six years for members of city council and six years for mayor.
For me, the term limits debate is personal. Not because I'll be leaving my city council position in a few days or because term limits prohibited me from seeking re-election; rather, it's about a public works project in my neighborhood that took me a decade and a half to complete.
There are several ways one can quibble with the logic Alvarado uses in her example. The project did get done anyway, so term limits were not insurmountable. The time span of the project (16 years) might well have exceeded any one Member's time in office anyway, thus leading to the same learning curve issues Alvarado described. The real problem may be with city processes that make such a project take so long to do. I don't doubt that having longer tenures on Council would have helped, but clearly it wasn't impossible.
Be that as it may, it's good to see more voices being raised against term limits. However, until an active Council member or candidate speaks up, I don't expect anything more to happen.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 31, 2007 to Local politics
The best reason for term limits, apart from Chris Bell and Carol Alvarado, is Chuck Rosenthal which is something to think about. If the district attorney was limited to two terms, or even one, we wouldn't be dealing with him at this point. Merely worrying about what might be worse with another Republican district attorney.
The founding fathers looked upon "public service" as an obligation on the part of the citizens. I have never seen any indication by any of them that they intended for political office to become a career unto itself.
And yet that is what it has become. And quite a lucrative one at that.
There isn't an argument for term limits, except that it reduces the obligation of citizens to become involved in or care about their own government. It's another quick-fix, a gimmick proposed by people who don't want to take the time to learn the issues and the candidates.
We already had term limits. They are called elections. But most of us don't bother to participate, or to gain the first clue about what is going on (well-informed bloggers the exception, of course).