Term limits help create a more diverse culture of change and foster new leadership opportunities, but they also open up some serious concerns that cannot be overlooked.
By Daniel Rodrigues
Published August 18, 2014
Much has been opined on the need for Term Limits for Hamilton's elected officials. One of the reasons being is that the incumbent has a proven advantage over any challenger. This advantage is highlighted by the sad fact that Municipal elections are mostly about "name recognition" versus actual platforms for the next four-years.
If we restrict the number of terms an elected official can sit, we create a more diverse culture of change and foster new leadership opportunities. Term limits provide some assurance that elected officials don't become stale and complacent. That makes sense.
I believe we need new and fresh ideas on a regular basis to ensure this City charts its future. Taken at face-value, I fully support Term Limits as they have merit.
However, would the topic have been raised if the current Council was operating within the expectations of the public? My guess is: probably not.
Imposing Term Limits opens up some serious concerns that cannot be overlooked, including (but not limited to):
Current Ward (mis)representation. Taking 2011 Ward population numbers: Ward 14 has a population of 17,634 while Ward 7 has a population of 62,179.
Councillor/Mayoral apathy in the final year of their final term: why bother doing anything? It's not like they're going to try to get re-elected!
A lack of a suitable candidate. This concern is not intended to question intellect or experience, but rather interest. (At the time of this writing, three incumbents are running unopposed.)
The current elected official is doing a really, really good job.
With the aforementioned cautionary concerns, we cannot ignore the voter in this decision. Ward 6 incumbent Tom Jackson was recently quoted as saying (in relation to how he'll run his campaign), "I approach it the same way...put my past four-year record and my overall record on the line..."
The voter is now led to believe that they are voting based on past performance alone, and not on future endeavours.
It is often said that Elected Officials work for the taxpayer. If this is indeed the case, then the taxpayer needs to view their Elected Officials as their employees.
In the private sector, when you are reviewing an employee's performance, you review their previous work and you set expectations moving forward.
Consider the current four wards which have no incumbent: each candidate is vying for position on who has the better "moving forward" platform coupled with the best past experience.
Incumbents can rely on the past as a performance indicator, but should not use it as a stand-alone reason to be elected. Consider paying for your cable, internet or phone: you pick a plan you like and pay for the plan in advance with a clear expectation of the deliverables.
Elections are no different: you choose the representative which best outlines expected deliverables for the next four years with the best past experience.
While I will support Term Limits, let's not forget that the voter has always held the power to limit any elected official. I will provide leadership, challenges, and information, while inviting input.
With a more engaged and informed electorate, we not only have Term Limits, we also have an electorate who is better informed as to whom will provide the better vision for Hamilton moving forward.
Raise the Hammer has an open call to candidates for the upcoming municipal election to submit opinion articles for publication. We will publish any submission that meets our submission guidelines.
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