I encourage everyone to give careful consideration to Kenai Peninsula Borough Propositions No. 2 and 3, the term limit propositions. I strongly encourage a "No" vote on both propositions.
Term limits may sound good initially, but the direct and indirect impacts and consequences deserve closer scrutiny. There are numerous legal problems and conflicts in addition to the broader policy implications. Here are a few examples:
In Nikiski, the current assembly member, Gary Superman, is running unopposed. Because he has served more than two consecutive terms, if the initiative passes and is upheld by the courts, Gary will not be able to serve his term, even though he is the only person who filed in the Nikiski district.
The assembly, rather than the voters of Nikiski, will choose the assembly member from Nikiski. Because assembly seats are allocated by district, the Nikiski assembly member will be "elected" by the other assembly members, none of whom reside in Nikiski.
The same thing will happen in Soldotna and Kasilof if the incumbents win the election in those districts.
If all three incumbents win their elections, the remaining six members of the assembly will choose three out of the nine assembly members, rather than the voters.
The voters in those districts will have no say in who their representatives will be. Does that really make sense?
In the school board races, the same scenario will happen. If the two incumbents are elected, the remaining members of the school board will select the board members for those districts rather than the voters.
The voters in those districts will have no say in who their representatives will be. Again, does that really make sense?
Please give some thought to this: Would you would rather vote for or against a candidate from your district to represent you on the assembly or school board, whether they are an incumbent or not, or would you rather have the other members of those bodies choose your representative for you?
The term limit propositions are ill conceived, poorly written and will subject the Kenai Peninsula Borough and duly elected representatives to costly and unnecessary legal expenses. The sponsors of the propositions were made aware of the legal problems when the petitions were filed but chose not to correct them.
If term limits are desired, it should be well thought out and debated through the public hearing process so they are legally defensible, fairly applied and have a clearly defined policy objective.
Think about who your current representatives are on the assembly and school board. Whether you like them or not, agree with them or not, or even know them or not, do you as a voter want to preserve your right to elect your representatives?
Whether you are in favor of or opposed to the concept of term limits, the propositions as written deserve a "No" vote.
I believe they are unconstitutional from a legal standpoint. More importantly, they do not make sense from a public policy perspective.
Please vote "No."
Mike Navarre is a former mayor for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.