Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 219
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for December 18, 2003

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

For several years now, the Warrensburg City Council has been under self-imposed term limits. Under the local ordinance, members can serve no more than 2 consecutive 3-year terms. This has provided for both stability on the council and an orderly process of change.

Now, I see that they are considering repealing those term limits. That raises some interesting questions: Is Warrensburg so bereft of public-spirited and capable citizens that there is a shortage of qualified candidates for the office? Are our current council members so vital to the operation of the city that they are irreplaceable? Does one (or more) of the current council members have ambitions or interests which can be furthered only by continued service on the council? The citizens of Warrensburg certainly have a right to know what is driving this move.

Unfortunately, access to council deliberations by the people of Warrensburg is being shackled by the procedures followed by the council. They have for some time been holding a “working session” prior to their regular meeting; that’s where the real discussion takes place, viewed only by such members of the press as have time to attend both the work session and the regular meeting. Their meeting to discuss the issue follows this trend, as it was scheduled for an off Monday, December 15th at 5:30 PM.

While I have questioned term limits as applied to our state legislature and have subscribed to the theory that voters can apply term limits at the polls, as a practical matter few officeholders are voted out. The presence of an incumbent discourages other qualified people from entering the race because of the problems of campaign costs to overcome the incumbent’s name recognition.

We have all seen in various places how public servants become professional politicians; the gap between them and those who elected them grows with time. Long-term incumbents become arrogant in their perquisites and power, followed all too often by corruption. I would hate to see that happen to Warrensburg.

If the City Council believes that eliminating their term limits serves the wishes of the voters, then let them put the question to the voters.

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