The debate over whether or not to have term limits for Great Bend City Council members and the mayor has come up twice at recent city council meetings and has been rejected twice. The debate continues on Facebook, where people have discussed the pros and cons.
Pros for term limits: They provide an opportunity for change and fresh ideas. They create a positive structure where public servants think more about the good of their constituents and less about getting themselves reelected. Serving in an elected position is not meant to be a career; endless terms lead to permanent bureaucracy. Long-term politicians are out of touch with their constituents.
Cons: Term limits circumvent the will of the voters, who can always impose “limits” by electing someone else. Term limits remove the people with the most experience, the ones who have invested years of their time learning how to do their jobs. (In the case of the city council, these are unpaid jobs.) People with better experience make better decisions with a long-term focus.
Now another voice has weighed in on the subject, saying, “The city of Great Bend belongs to the people who live here, not the city council. Why not put this question on a ballot & let the people be the deciding factor? Why allow the city council to decide for themselves?”
The reason why this does not need to be put on a ballot is that our city council members ARE chosen by the people who live here and represent those people. We do not need to put every issue that comes before our governing body on a ballot. The city council elections are our ballot.
Finding people who are willing to serve on executive boards for no pay is difficult. There are plenty of opportunities to fill elected or appointed positions.
The issue really doesn’t need to come before the city council again, either. It’s been on the agenda twice and rejected twice. The council members know there are valid arguments on both sides, as their divided vote shows. But the council has already realized that unnecessary restrictions on who can serve can have an adverse effect on the pool of potential servants. That’s why the nepotism policy for paid employees was loosened up a bit at the last council meeting.