Richard Greene

Arlington’s economic success is at stake with the decision on city term limits

Countless Texans have unclaimed money. Are you one of them?
Countless Texans have unclaimed money. Are you one of them? AP

In less than two weeks, the Arlington City Council will be deciding the propositions that will be put before voters to change the structure of governing the city.

First, we’ll have to see if the petition the city has received to establish a system of term limits for city council members and the office of mayor has qualified for inclusion on the ballot.

Some have wondered why there would be any initiative to restructure the governing body in one of the most successful cities in the country.

Leaders of the petition drive have said, inexplicably, the purpose of their efforts is to remove the mayor and current council members from office.

The result of the plan put forward would achieve that result in a very short time. With a successful outcome in the November election, a majority of the city council will be kicked out of office within the ensuing 18 months.

A year later, the city’s highly popular, energetic and visionary mayor will be terminated.

That scenario comes at a time when Arlington’s economy is booming with more than $5 billion of new development underway, thousands of new jobs being created, a thriving tourism industry, and a robust transformation of the city’s downtown.

Record amounts of money is being devoted to street and road improvements, police and fire protection, and steady increases in supporting the basic services citizens depend upon in their daily lives.

All of that is being achieved while property taxes are among the lowest in the region and the city’s sales tax rate is below that of any neighboring city.

The success of these positive developments has resulted in Arlington being recognized as the best managed city in the state.

That designation followed the national recognition of Arlington as the best big city in the South and more recently, at the top of the list of the area’s most successful economic developments.

None of those kinds of outcomes just happen. They require a tireless commitment to achieving excellence for the benefit of all citizens. That’s why Arlington is known as The American Dream City.

The key element in the past seven decades of progress developing the current momentum comes from stable, dependable and consistent leadership at city hall.

To protect that legacy and, more importantly, the city’s future prospects for continued success, discussion has been building among concerned citizens in the city in recent weeks.

There is consideration of asking the city council to offer voters an alternative to the petition plan that would ensure continued progress for the benefit of all the city’s residents.

Response from one of the leaders of the petition drive was to react with a 30-minute profane and obscenity laced tirade on social media. Included in his harangue was to declare that the duly-elected city council “hates all citizens.”

He went on to say such community discussion was some kind of “treasonous” act among citizens who question the wisdom of the petition effort that would result in the removal of the mayor and current city council members.

Actually, just the opposite would be the outcome of offering voters another choice of a plan for sensible term limits that protects the future well-being of the city.

That would set up an opportunity for every voter to select the plan they thought best or to reject all such proposals and maintain the current method of governing the city.

Such would represent the essence of democracy where the people have the final say.

So, stay tuned as all this works its way to a final decision the city council will soon reach in putting all of this before voters in November.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor, appointed by President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. He lectures at UT Arlington.