Archive for November, 2016

This year among other issues Boulder citizens will decide whether to implement term limits for Boulder City Council members. Here are my thoughts. This text was published by the Boulder Daily Camera in a letter to the editor on October 18, 2016.

(Post-script: this ballot issue was approved by Boulder voters with a 60% approval in the 2016 election.)

Letter to the Editor – Term Limits Will Strengthen Our Community

On October 7th, I carved out a lunch hour to observe a debate about Initiative 302 – city council term limits. Andy Schultheiss, Open Boulder’s executive director, spoke in support of the measure. Richard Valenty, former Colorado Daily journalist, presented the opposing position.

Valenty analyzed city council member data from the past 49 years. His conclusion is term limits are unnecessary because there is no problem. My question is if there’s no problem then why oppose 302?

Schultheiss argued that while 302’s modest term limits (between 10-12 years) won’t make a huge difference, it will make a small one. I agree and Valenty’s data provides quantitative support: if the next 49 years are like the past 49 and term limits are implemented, we will enjoy the benefit of six more people on Council. Six more perspectives to help influence and shape our community. Six more opportunities for people from all demographics to participate.

The usual argument against term limits is those who have served (on council, in politics, etc.) have experience that is “lost” once they leave. That’s misleading. These people don’t disappear; many former council members find influential positions and continue to leverage their experience for the benefit of the community. Their experience isn’t lost – it finds other ways to serve.

The more people we have like that over the next 49 years – and the data says we’ll have at least 6 more if 302 passes – the richer our community will be.

This issue comes down to whether to trade in experience for fresh perspectives. However, since the experience doesn’t disappear, I believe the cultivation of seasoned people into multiple positions throughout Boulder will strengthen our community. In the spirit of broadening opportunities for new voices, term limits definitely make sense. Join me in voting yes on 302.


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