Decision on term limits belongs to voters

Recent introduction of an ordinance that would do away with the current term limits on borough assembly members has us of two minds.

 

On one hand, it has been argued in this space on numerous occasions that term limits do little to improve borough government. An entrenched incumbency that term limits addresses just doesn’t exist at the borough level. In a day and age where the number of candidates willing to run for local office is already small, term limits simply narrow voters’ choices even more.

The greater threat to good representative government is voter apathy — something term limits has not cured. Twenty percent voter turnout is relatively high for a municipal election. Last fall’s election included two new candidates for the Assembly District 1 seat, which was open after its previous holder was prevented from running due to term limits. Voter turnout in that district was 6.1 percent.

However, the current term limit measure on the books was passed as a voter initiative in 2007, and reaffirmed by voters, again through the initiative process, in 2009.

It is hardly the first time, and certainly won’t be the last, that Kenai Peninsula voters have disagreed with this editorial board.

And, quite frankly, like it or not, the will of the voters needs to be respected.

It is certainly within the purview of the assembly to take a look at the term limits ordinance, and a healthy discussion on whether it is working as intended is in order.

But the timing of this ordinance’s introduction — likely too close to the fall election for supporters of term limits to mount a challenge — has the appearance of undermining voters’ intent.

If the assembly is serious about changing the law regarding term limits, it needs to get approval from the same authority that put term limits in place — Kenai Peninsula voters. Put the measure on the ballot, and accept the results.

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