Editorials

Vote ‘no’ on Arlington City Council term limits

Are the residents of Arlington ready to fire half of their city council?

That’s effectively what will occur if voters pass the Nov. 6 ballot measure that would term limit council members.

We believe it’s a bad idea.

The proposition would amend the city charter to limit the mayor and council members to three two-year terms.

That’s six years total -- hardly enough time to shape the city in any meaningful way.

More than that, the proposal would consider current and past council service -- that means five sitting council members could be forced out over the next two years.

Yes, that would be unfair to the council members, who presumably have hopes of running for reelection.

But term-limiting city council members would cause far greater long-term damage to the city and its citizens, by prematurely ending the service of effective local leaders.

Local elected government, like many other jobs, has a significant learning curve. There is a budget process to master; millions of dollars in contracts to review; relationships with constituents, private-sector interests, developers and other agencies -- police and fire protection -- to form and grow.

All of this takes time and effort. Once gained, such expertise is extremely valuable, especially in the hands of a capable leader.

But with only six years of service permitted, an effective council member may be forced to leave office just as he or she is making an impact.

The revolving door would leave much of the decision making to bureaucrats and lobbyists. Their power and influence would continue to grow, siphoning away the influence of democratically elected leadership.

For those still in doubt, consider what Arlington would be without Tom Vandergriff. As mayor, he helped transform Arlington into the vibrant, competitive city it is today, attracting developers and industry -- not to mention Major League Baseball -- to the Metroplex.

Vandergriff was mayor of Arlington for more than 25 years -- because transformation on that scale takes time and expertise.

If local leaders aren’t effective people can term limit them by voting. But let’s not set arbitrary limitations on the local leaders who serve our communities well.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board endorses voting “no” on Proposition E, term limits for Arlington City Council.

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