Let’s Add Term Limits
It is time to enact term limits for city councilmembers in Laguna Beach.
Here are the reasons why:
- Since the Founding Fathers, the general consensus has been that people, given power, eventually will be corrupted by it. As Henry Kissinger quoted Lord Acton: “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
- In Laguna Beach, there is in fact partisan politics. On one side is Village Laguna. On the other side is Liberate Laguna. If term limits were enacted, toeing the party line for either side would be less important.
- With term limits, holding on to one’s seat would be less important, thus freeing up the councilmember to cast votes as he/she really sees fit, and not through a partisan lens.
- It means fresh ideas continually will be injected into the system.
California has term limits of 12 years for both assembly and senate members. It is working quite well. Members actually work to help their districts, not just to hang on to power.
Further, the state has term limits of two terms, or eight years for its statewide offices like governor, attorney general, treasurer, and so on. That, too, is working quite well. No one person gains such preeminent power that other points of view are ignored or quickly shot down.
Even the United States has term limits for the Presidency. That limit is two terms or eight years, an example set by the father of our country, George Washington. The limit was enacted after President Franklin Roosevelt ignored the precedent, ran four times and died in office.
If there are term limits for the Presidency and California’s state elected officials that should be good enough for Laguna.
In Laguna Beach itself, Mayor Bob Whalen has served since 2012, and when his current term ends, it will be 2024. That is 12 years. I think Bob has done a tremendous job—more than that, he has been so great the Council itself keeps selecting him for repeated terms as mayor. But 12 years is enough.
Another Councilmember, Toni Iseman, has been on the City Council since 1988, when Ronald Reagan was president. That’s six [residents ago. The world population was 5 billion; now it is 8 billion. The singer Sunny Bono, now long dead (from a skiing accident), had just been voted Mayor of Palm Springs.
Toni championed the city trolley service and deserves thanks for that. But by the time her current term is over she will have served 34 years, twice what works completely fine for the state. It is time for us to thank her; and time for her to move on.
Term limits for Laguna should not be controversial. I would wonder about anyone who opposes it. What would be their real agenda?
So let’s focus on what is meaningful to this city. Install term limits. 12 years, or three terms, exactly what a state senator or assemblymember can serve, should be good enough for Laguna Beach.
Who is with me on this? Please do comment.
Michael is co-founder of Orange County School of the Arts and The Discovery Cube
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