Thursday, May 1, 2008

Queen’s City Hall

On the Enquirer Politics Extra Blog, there was a remark that Cecil Thomas was investigating support for changing the length of council terms from two years to four years. According to the report from Jane Prendergast, it was spurred by the hectic nature of having to campaign so often.

What do you think?

I admit that in some ways I agree with him. How much can be accomplished in two years when a couple months of that is trying to get re-elected for the next two years? Raising money for a campaign is an effort. Trust me, I know first hand. And I tend to think that a truly civic minded individual could channel those efforts in to actually campaigning for a better city. Now I am sure though that some will not use those two years productively and just use it as a ‘free pass’. They will continue to be as ineffective in four years as they were in two.
I think it does make the election even more critical. Getting the right mix of people in November is important because we potentially will be stuck with them for the next four years.

I’d be interested to see the term lengths of council member in other US cities of similar size. Heck, I’d be interested to see what other cities our size do in terms of voting for candidates by both ward and at large and electing a strong mayor and eliminating the City Manager altogether. (I am not saying I support any of these but I’d be interested in the data to maybe build a case either way.)


Chris S said...

I put together a smattering of what other similar sized cities are doing over on my blog here

gerard said...

I agree with four-year terms in general. The same problem comes up with U.S. House Reps. They get maybe one good year of legislating, and then spend the next year campaigning. I always think, "didn't they just get elected last year?" And the truth is they did.

Jimmy_James said...

I support longer terms as well. You could still have elections every 2 years by dividing the council roughly in half and having the terms overlap. That way you get the benefits of the longer terms without the detriment of having a totally static council for four years at a time.

Jimmy_James said...

^ This could also lead to a "buddy system" where council members holding seats that are on different election cycles campaign for each other, since they don't have to worry about their own seat for the moment. So that might actually end up being worse (or better if a councilman is just terrible and no one will back them up). I love contemplating the ramifications of minor gov't changes such as term limits. Fascinating stuff.

Dan said...

Yeah, I agree with staggered terms too Jimmy James.