Friday, August 20, 2010

A Solution in Search of a Problem, Part Two

By Marc Korman.

Previously we examined the forty-one members of the Montgomery County Council since the current Charter was adopted. We found that only five Councilmembers have exceeded the proposed term limit Robin Ficker is promoting.

Examining those five individuals, I will demonstrate why a term limits amendment is unnecessary:

Neal Potter
Potter was elected with the first County Council under the new Charter in 1970 and served five consecutive terms until 1990, exceeding the proposed limit by two. County residents were so outraged by Potter’s mad grab for power that they elevated him to County Executive, ousting an incumbent to do so no less. After one term as County Executive, Potter returned to the Council which would be acceptable under the Amendment because it was non-consecutive.

William Hanna
Hanna was elected in 1982 and reelected three more times, serving until 1998 and exceeding the term limit proposal by one term. Why did Hanna step down given his clear domination and entrenchment in Rockville? Oh, wait, he did not step down. He was defeated for reelection by Phil Andrews in 1998. Obviously the dreaded power of incumbency only took Hanna so far before a young and hungry politico was able to defeat him in an open and democratic election.

Michael Subin
Subin was first elected in 1986 and was reelected four more times, exceeding the term limit proposal by two elections. Again, why would the entrenched incumbent feeding off the government trough retire from his cushy lifestyle? Oh, wait, he also was ousted in an open and democratic election in 2006 as a new wave of at-large Councilmembers defeated Subin and took the seat left vacant by Steve Silverman.

Ike Leggett
Leggett served four terms on the County Council between 1986 and 2002. He was not defeated for reelection but stepped down voluntarily. But what did the voters do once they were rid of his terrible long term reign on the Council? They elected him County Executive in 2006. Clearly they were so outraged by his long term tenure on the Council that they wanted to ensure he would not return….by electing him to higher office.

Marilyn Praisner
And now we come to the most outrageous name on the list, Marilyn Praisner. First elected in 1990 and subsequently reelected in every election up to 2006. When she passed, she was serving her fifth term of terror on the Council. There is no pithy ending to Ms. Praisner’s term on the Council. She passed away and left eight politicians without their compass or most experienced voice. She was never defeated for reelection or elevated to higher office.

That is what the Ficker proposal comes down to, Marilyn Praisner. Based on the Amendment, she is the problem. The other four cannot be because they were not so entrenched as to avoid losing reelection to the Council or so hated for their incumbency that they were denied higher office by the voters in open elections when they left their safe seats. The lack of term limits did nothing to stop the voters from elevating or discarding them.

So if you think Marilyn Praisner was the problem on the County Council, then please go ahead and sign the Term Limits proposal and vote “yes” if it appears on the ballot. But if you think the voters can be trusted to enforce their own term limits through elections and that if we want to keep sending Marilyn Praisners back to the Council, we should be allowed, then say no thanks and vote accordingly.