Whatever Happened to Term Limits?

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Commentary by Dave Freneaux
    On the Central Speaks Radio Hour last week (heard 5:30 to 6:30 each Wednesday on WPFC 1550 AM) I was joined by Council Members Louis DeJohn and Aaron Moak and Ms. Kathi Cowen in a discussion of Term Limits.  I will recap their stances in a moment, but two questions keep nagging me about this issue, the biggest of which is:     Why have Term Limits never been pursued by Central’s City Council?
    During the radio show there were many good points made on both sides of the issue, and overall I felt it was an informative discussion.  Councilman Moak favors Term Limits for the Mayor, but not for Council Members, and he defended his position with good points.  Councilman DeJohn felt just the opposite, wanting term limits for Council but not for the Mayor, and had good reasons as well.  Finally, Ms. Cowen gave good arguments in favor of term limits for all of Central’s elected officials.  Council Members LoBue, Messina and Washington did not accept invitations to discuss the issue on the air.  In the end, a stance for or against term limits comes down to a matter of preference, but I am still left with two questions.
    Why, when four of Central’s Council Members stated in the 2010 campaign that they favored Term Limits of some sort, has Central’s City Council not sought to implement them?  In the 2010 campaign Council Members LoBue, Messina and Washington campaigned firmly in favor of term limits.  Council Member DeJohn favored term limits with staggered terms, but stated that this may not be possible under current law.  With at least a majority of the City Council favoring Term Limits, and with this Council now being in place for almost two years, one would expect that the Council Members would have sought to follow through on their campaign stance.
    A skeptic pointed out to me that if Two-Term Limits were in place, three of Central’s current Council Members would not be able to run for re-election in 2014, and that the other two would be considering a run for their last eligible term.  I would prefer to believe that Central’s Council Members would not allow their possible re-elections to stand in the way of good legislation that they supported in the campaign.  Also, in order for Term Limits to significantly affect current Council Members, they would have to be retroactive, which leads me to my second question.
    If our current City Council pushed for term limits, would they apply those term limits to themselves, or only to future Council Members?  If Two-Term Limits were enacted now and were NOT made retroactive, the current Council Members could actually serve up to four terms each, twice what would be allowed under Two-Term Limits if enacted.  One would suppose that even if Two-Term Limits were enacted and NOT made retroactive, a Council Member favoring term limits would have the grace to voluntarily limit their own service to two terms.

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