Term Limit Study

Before Mayor White left office, he appointed a committee to study the impact of term limits on Houston.  See the article here.  I am in favor of studying issues before making decisions, but I really hope the outcome of this study shows that term limits should stay in place.  We are living in a time where most people have no faith in our government.  Why would we possibly want to give them more power?

The big argument for getting rid of term limits is that 6 years isn’t long enough to learn everything there is to know about Houston to make a difference.  Since when is 6 years not long enough?  In the private sector, you would be fired if you couldn’t learn how to do your job in a few weeks.  Why should it possibly take more than 6 years to learn about Houston government?  One solution is to start voting for people with experience in government so they can jump right in and DO the job!  6 years is about the amount of time it takes to complete medical school.  So you would be ok with someone treating you after 6 years of training but not ok with someone voting on ordinances??  Ok, your doctor might not have stepped right out of medical school with their own practice, but you get my point.  Why don’t elected officials advocate for changing the limits to 3 year terms with only 2 allowed to be served? It allows more experience in each term without extending the amount of years in office. 

Here’s some interesting information I found.  I looked back at the voting records from 1983 – 2009.  Term limits have only been in place since 1993.  Since 1983 (26 years) only 7 people have been able to beat an incumbant in a race.  7.  Here is the list:

1989:
Beverley Clark beat Jim Westmoreland – At Large #1

1991:
Bob Lanier beat Kathy Whitmire – Mayor
Gracie Saenz beat Beverley Clark – At Large #1

1993:
Ray Driscoll beat John Goodner – District F
John Kelley beat Christin Hartung – District G

1997:
Sylvia Garcia beat Lloyd Kelley – Controller

1999:
Bert Keller beat Jean Kelley – District G

I believe, especially on the city level, that keeping term limits is the only way to get people out of office.  My research shows how difficult it is to get people out of office.  Voters aren’t necessarily happy with their representatives, but they hear their names enough times and remember it on voting day.  No one is so amazing that they need to stay on city council for years on end.  George Washington knew the tyranny that could transpire if he stayed on as President too long.  Let’s take a lesson from him.

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One Response to Term Limit Study

  1. Bob Whitehurst says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Amy. I became an advocate for term limits at all levels of government quite a few years back when I read George Will’s fabulous book on the subject entitled “Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy”. Our Founding Fathers never intended we the people to make careers out of political service. You were supposed to go in, server, then get the hell out! Term limits are absolutely required to force this founding precept.

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