Feud on term limits continues


An argument based on scholarly articles… “They’ve all concluded, including liberals and conservatives, that term limits fail,” said Paul Bessel, Chair of the Charter Review Commission.

Versus one based on community interaction… “44 percent of the people that signed our petition were registered democrats and 22 percent were registered independents,” said Robin Ficker, local attorney.

Montgomery County has seen the question of term limits on the ballot before, but tides may be changing after Ficker collected 18,000 signatures in support of limiting county council to three consecutive terms.

The Sentinel hosted a debate Sept. 19 for residents to hear both sides.

Locals will get a chance to weigh in on term limits for county council members on the November 8th ballot.

“There’s no right or wrong answer,” said Paul Schwartz, debate questioner from the Sentinel.  “It’s just a matter of on each side of the answer which voters seem to be most impressed by.”

Ficker was backed by a new non-profit called Voters for Montgomery County Term Limits.

They’re looking to bring fresh faces to the government.

“It allows people to participate who are interested in the good of the community who are not connected to special interests, and it gives the community a chance to have a voice,” said Seth Gottesman, Montgomery County resident.

But Bessel challenges people to bring forth any research that shows term limits work.

“For example, people who support the term limits say that it will result in lower taxes, everywhere that term limits have been imposed, taxes have gone up,” said Bessel.

Bessel added that experience is a plus; just like he’d want a veteran heart surgeon, politicians familiar with the government can help a community more.

And Ficker offered plenty of metaphors himself.

“The Montgomery County Council is pretty much like a diaper,” said Ficker.  “It needs to be changed often and for the same reasons.”

Council members say they are not in favor of term limits.

The amendment would directly affect five of its current members.

Prince George’s County is the only county in the Washington metropolitan area with term limits.

Officials are restricted to two consecutive terms.

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