A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stop Me Before I Vote Again!

I keep reading that anyone who argues against term limits for Sarasota County Commissioners is "ignoring the will of the voters." Really? Which voters? Because the record seems pretty clear what the will of the voters has been. . .

Or at least pretty muddled and contradictory. 

Of course term limit advocates point to the vote in 1998 when a two term limit charter amendment passed by more than two to one. They hang their hat on that outcome and actually believe the electorate sent a clear signal that they had no stomach for any ding-dang third termers.

But they are not likely to mention the Mills v. Bishop race on that same ballot. David Mills was running for a third term against a qualified opponent, Bill Bishop. And in a classic actions-speak-louder-than-words display of fickleness, they elected MIlls to his third term at the exact same moment soon after they said never again to third terms!*

* I actually now believe the referendum was on an earlier primary ticket and the voters then subsequently gave David Mills a third term in the general election that followed.

Now some will argue Bishop was fatally flawed, being a Democrat and all, but the Republicans had earlier picked MIlls over Lee in a primary race. 

What looks like a way to punish politicians who overstay their welcome in the eyes of some, actually boils down to a way to punish fellow members of the electorate who want to vote for third termers. It creates a ceiling above which no commissioner, no matter how beloved, can rise. In the rush to prevent bad commissioners from serving term limits instead prevent good commissioners from serving.

So the question is: which will of the voters should prevail -- what they said once in 1998 or what they did in 1998 (and continue* to do)?

*I say continue because in 2010 the electorate that supposedly can't stomach third terms propelled Nora Patterson to her fourth, even though they could have voted for Democrat Hawkins in the general election (or in the Republican primary, Smith). 

Makes it seem like the proponents of term limits who claim to be dissatisfied with uncontrollable politicians are actually disgruntled because their peer voters can't be controlled.