OPINION | Barry Richard: Time for Term Limits for Local Officials
Change is coming to the New Bedford City Council and apparently not a moment too soon.
Open seats in Wards 1, 2 and 5 and the recent changing of the guard in Ward 3 due to the resignation of Councilor Henry Bousquet guarantee a new dynamic in Council Chambers after the first of the year. What remains uncertain at this point is whether voters will want to shake up the at-large contingent as well.
As often as voters insist they are for change, it is very rare when they actually make change. Incumbents are almost always re-elected and very seldom face a serious threat. Perhaps the time has come to consider term limits. There comes a time when even the best and brightest run out of fresh ideas.
It has become apparent that several members of the current Council are seriously at odds with other members. Differences on issues are healthy but it appears as though personality issues have emerged that threaten the normal ebb and flow of conducting the city's business. It has also become apparent that personality differences between some on the Council and the Mayor's office may also be effecting policy decisions.
On November 7th, voters will get a chance to decide whether to extend the Mayor's term from two to four years. I support that initiative because it gives the Chief Executive the time needed to see projects through to fruition. I wish the initiative went further by limiting a Mayor to two 4 year terms.
I would also favor changes in terms for members of the City Council. Two year terms remain the ideal in my view but there should be a limit of three terms or six years in office. Term limits would give elected officials adequate time to accomplish their goals while keeping them focused and sharp.
Some politicians, like some athletes just don't know when to call it quits. Term limits would make for more effective and productive government while eliminating much of the pettiness and foolishness that can result by keeping the same old faces around too long.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.