The Chron endorses City Proposition 2, which would change the current system of term limits from three two-year terms to two four-year terms.
If our leaders know they’ll be judged by a six-year timeline, there’s little incentive to plan for the future. If politicians are replaced every six years, we’ll keep repeating the same debates.
That’s why Houstonians should vote “yes” on the city’s proposition 2, which will change term limits to two, four-year terms for mayor and City Council. This isn’t the only modification that our City Charter needs, but the additional two years will be a step in the right direction.
However, even if the proposition passes, the debate should not end with this vote. Changing term limits will also change other dynamics at City Hall. New rules will likely be needed to prevent unintended consequences.
For example, today’s two-year terms work hand-in-hand with our strong mayor system, in which the mayor has near total control over executive and legislative duties. So while the mayor wields immense power, he also has to face regular elections. Longer terms threatens to weaken that important check.
That’s their springboard to endorsing the idea of modifying the charter to allow Council members to put items on the agenda. I continue to be indifferent to that, and I continue to be against the idea of four year terms. I don’t think they’re a good idea for municipal offices. The KHOU/KUHF poll suggests a slight lead for Prop 2, but I don’t buy it. Previous polling suggested that there was no appetite to change term limits; this is one reason why previous attempts to put a term limits referendum on the ballot didn’t go anywhere. There’s no campaign for Prop 2, and little evidence I can see of a clamor for this change. Much as I dislike our term limits ordinance, we’ve had it for 24 years, which means that politically it’s The Way Things Have Always Been Done, and stuff like that doesn’t change without an effort, and a fight. I will be more than a little surprise if Prop 2 is the exception to that.