Lack of choices hampers good government (Mike Burton – Feb. 8, 2016)

To the Editor:

Recently, a special interest group has promoted imposing term limits for county commissioners. This group has only covered the potentially positive aspects of this issue based on their ideology. However, there are actual negative consequences of this action.

Term limits remove a citizen’s right to vote for the candidate of his or her choice and the right of a candidate to run for election. Successful and popular elected officials would not be able to continue to work for us after their limit. What business would survive if, after years of successful management, they fired their CEO? But that’s what term limits do.

Also, the prospect of the next election works to keep public servants accountable for their full term. Under term limits, elected officials would have no compelling incentive to consider the majority interest after their first term since they cannot lose the next election.

Third, with term limits, Union County would be at a decided disadvantage for funding and influence in the state to counties without term limits. Commissioners are appointed to committees by the governor or Legislature, are invited to testify for the Legislature, influence funding, sit on commissions, etc. Commissioners who are experienced get these assignments. Eastern Oregon already has so little influence in this state due to the one-party rule of the I-5 corridor. Why would we further disadvantage ourselves by imposing term limits?

Finally, the real key to good, responsible government is a free and responsible citizenry, not a set of laws that restrict our choices. Everyone should get to know their elected officials’ and candidates’ political affiliation/philosophy, record of success and views on local issues. Our commissioners are readily available to us.

I personally know every one of our commissioners, and they are always open to hearing my concerns. Let’s say “no” to restriction of our choices with term limits. After all, terms of office

already exist. We can replace our commissioners at every election if they do not perform the wishes of the majority.

Mike Burton