Term Limits Affecting Long-Range City Planning

Elected city officials in dozens of cities want to overturn term limits, saying current ones keep them from being able to tackle long-range projects.
September 11, 2008, 9am PDT | Larry Schooler
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"The campaigns against term limits, should they succeed, would drastically change the process by which millions of Americans elect a variety of their leaders - and how much power those leaders can amass once in office.

The elected leaders, some of whom supported term limits when they were imposed, argue that the limits severely hamper government and leave the officials little time to figure out the mechanics of their office. That forces them to gravitate toward small-bore projects that can be done quickly, rather than anything visionary that would take years to achieve.

'It has been an unmitigated disaster for the city,' said Phil Hardberger, the departing mayor of San Antonio, who supports a November referendum to lengthen term limits to four two-year terms from two.

'The learning curve of how city government works and how to get things done is steep, but when you keep putting people in, and throwing them out, there is very little accountability,' he added. 'We do a lot of churning here, but we don't produce a lot of butter.'"

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Published on Tuesday, September 9, 2008 in New York Times
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