Term limits

May 17, 2017

Many COWS want to ensure a regular supply of fresh blood and new ideas in legislative bodies. The COWncil has at least started the discussion of term limits. During the September 27, 2016 meeting, Council members discussed term limits remarking that while most COWncil elections have been uncontested, term limits may be reasonable. We agree. The well known “incumbency advantage” which refers to the electoral margin a candidate enjoys on account of her status as an incumbent running for reelection discourages opposition. With no opposition, there is no debate on matters of policy. Staff was to report back regarding this issue.

Term limits for COWncil members need voter approval but can be initiated by the COWncil or a citizen’s initiative. Typically term limits for COWncil terms have been two terms but some jurisdictions use three terms. We feel that 8 years is long enough.

Term limits for Commissions, Boards and Committees can be imposed at the discretion of the COWncil. Senior members of these bodies hold an awful lot of influence with newer members. Some develop pet ideas which dominate all discussion. On occasion, like recently the ASRB, develop a culture where they micro-manage projects to their own liking. Term limits for these bodies will encourage more participation and will provide good preparation for COWs who may want to later consider running for public office. Since no election is needed, this change can be implemented immediately. We suggest, doing one Board or Commission at a time since it is admittedly not always easy to recruit volunteers to apply for these posts. Consolidating to fewer advisory bodies might help.

The Town decided at its April 11, 2017 meeting it will be using survey monkey to learn what COWs think bout this proposal. Once it becomes available, make sure to respond and share your views of term limits.

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