Term limits would take power away from Arlington voters

Zack Maxwell, who led the petition effort, uses a megaphone to rally supporters to speak.
Zack Maxwell, who led the petition effort, uses a megaphone to rally supporters to speak.

Let’s assume you have a great employee who out-performs his or her peers. Is it good business for the company to say at the end of six years, “You’re doing a great job, but it’s time to go?”

That seems inefficient and counterproductive. Someone who has gained experience, learned the ropes, developed important relationships, and knows how to get the job done is a valuable asset.

The same can be said of a mayor or council members elected to set policies that shape their cities. It takes time to understand the budget; responsible police and fire protection; good development decisions; and whether millions of dollars in city contracts are being fairly awarded.

That’s why this Editorial Board does not support the artificial term limit proposal for council positions that will be on the ballot in Arlington in November.

The proposed two-year terms mean candidates are campaigning half the time they’re in office. With a maximum of three consecutive terms, or six years, an effective council member may be leaving office just as he or she is making an impact.

Under term limits, long-time staff and lobbyists may end up running the city. They’ll still be drafting plans and influencing decisions long after council members leave.

There are certainly public officials who don’t deserve to serve more than one term. For them, term limits should be imposed by voters who go to the polls and send them packing.

Yes, we know, elections cost money and incumbents may have greater name recognition and contacts needed to raise it. Voter turnout is often dismally low.

But the solution is not to take power away from voters. It’s to encourage talented citizens to run for office; help promote their messages; then show up and elect them.

Imagine what Arlington might be like today if term limits had prevented the late Tom Vandergriff from serving as mayor for 26 years.

Under his leadership the General Motors plant broke ground; Six Flags and the Texas Rangers came to the city; Arlington State College became a part of the UTA system.

Much of the Vandergriff legacy might be missing if term limits had cut short his service.