Third time had better be the charm

Well, Houston Mayor Lee Brown was sworn in for his third and final term yesterday. I voted for him, as I did in the previous two elections, though I can’t say I was all that enthusiastic about it. I’m not quite as down on Brown as some – I think he’s done more good than his critics give him credit for – but I also can’t honestly say that I voted for him any more than I voted against his opponents (in ’97 and again this year; he had only token opposition in ’99). Had it been Brown versus Chris Bell instead of Orlando Sanchez, I’d have given serious thought to supporting Bell.

In his inaugural address, Brown talked about working to change Houston’s moronic term-limits law. If he can do this, I’ll consider his administration a net gain even if I’m still bitter about his lack of leadership on rail (a topic I’ll address another time). This law was the biggest blight on Houston’s charter until that anti-gay Proposition 2 passed in November. Unfortunately, Brown is merely pushing for a watering-down of the term limits law; instead of three two year terms, Houston city officials could serve two four year terms, then run again after sitting out a term. I’d rather have no term limits, but this is better than what we’ve got now.

Every time term limits gets mentioned in the Chronicle, you can count on local activist/crank Clymer Wright to break out his crayons and dash off a letter to the editor defending the odious law he helped pass. Let me explain to you in small words why term limits suck, Clymer: I don’t want you telling me who I can and cannot vote for.

I’ll stipulate that the deck is stacked towards incumbents. Campaign financing and gerrymandered districts make it tough to vote the bums out. But not impossible. Anyone who thinks that we need an artificial way of ensuring turnover in elected office believes that the voters are stupid and can’t be trusted.

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