We'd preface our remarks about the proposed County Charter amendment to lengthen the term of council members from two to four years with the following observation:
On the whole, we think the current council and administration have done a very good job in the last two years.
However, the proposed change to the charter would increase the amount of consecutive years a member may serve on the council from 10 years to 12.
Currently, council members may serve five consecutive two-year terms. The amendment would allow them to serve three four-year terms before stepping down or at least taking a break.
We oppose the change for the following reasons:
* Twelve years gives members too long to build (and service) power bases.
* The change would pose an even bigger deterrent to getting fresh faces and ideas on the council. Challengers (and the public) would simply have to wait longer between elections if there is disillusionment with a sitting member. In short, members would have to face the public and explain their records less often.
* Whether we like it or not, name recognition is a big factor in elections and the exposure that comes with being on the council is already a huge bonus for incumbents. Using that trump card for three four-year terms would stifle change on the council.
We think the current two-year system works. Council members face the public regularly and that makes them more responsive. There is rapid accountability.
A "No" vote on increasing council terms is appropriate.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.