2001-03-14 / Editorials


Term Limits Revisited

A referendum is without a doubt the purest form of a democracy, except perhaps for the practice in the days of the Roman Empire when the populace, gathered at the Colosseum, indicated the will of the people by the thumbs up or down method.

This being the case, the Gazette feels that the referenda which approved term limits for all elected officials in the city government clearly show the will of the people and should not be tampered with or overturned by the present members of the City Council, they being the ones the referenda spoke to directly.

This is not to say some future City Council would be proscribed from ending term limits. No law or rule, regulation—or referendum—is written in stone.

Some time in the future, valid reasons may assert themselves and make logical sense to return to the set of laws which place no limits on the number of terms an elected city officeholder may serve.

This might be done by the then-sitting City Council, or by the people voting in another referendum. We don’t think there can be an objection raised to this happening in the future. The Gazette feels only that it is unseemly and distasteful for the incumbent Councilmembers to serve their individual purposes by overturning term limits, thus saying, in effect that the referenda did not count.

While we objected strongly to the Ron Lauder–backed proposal creating term limits and while we railed against the injustice of limiting capable leaders we must respect the will of the people. We will miss many of our Councilmembers at the end of this term, but we must conclude that the incoming class of Councilmembers will be able to fathom the mysterious art of running the city government.

Opponents of the plan campaigned hard against it both times but were unable to convince a majority of voters to see it their way. Whether voters may have changed their positions since the referenda no one can say.

We can only reiterate that the people spoke their minds in passing the two referenda and the City Council should respect this and live with the decision. The game is over, it has been for some time, and there’s no point in looking to start a new game, especially when the losing side may be holding an unbeatable hand. It just wouldn’t be fair or good sportsmanship to start all over again.

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