Case Ootes who has served the residents of East York for 21 years recently announced that he will not seek re-election. Somewhat surprisingly after all this time Ootes has decided that term limits are the way to go. That's one of the beauties of municipal politics. You just keep learning.
Locally three members of Burlington (Ontario) Council complete their first four year term this year. Of the veterans Councillor Rick Craven will have served ten years come the October election. Jack Dennison and Carol D'Amelio are coming up on 16 years. Councillor John Taylor arrived in November 1988 - the same municipal election year that voters sent Mr. Ootes to East York Council. One could argue that this Burlington Council has a good balance - experienced members and some rookies bringing new ideas.
Like other flavours of the month term limits was a hot topic in these parts 15 years ago. That’s when a movement to have smaller councils was in vogue. Burlington was the most successful shrinker in those “less government is better government days.” The head local shrinker, now proroguing MP, Mike Wallace led the charge to take council size from 17 to 7. My recollection is that Wallace also championed term limits (6 - 9 years) in those days. I'm not sure what his position was when he left for Ottawa after 12 years of local council duty. (Others remember that then rookie Dennison favoured two terms and out but I'm not sure. I wasn’t taking notes.)
I'd always thought that limiting Councillors to two or three terms was a bad idea ‘cause the electorate ought to decide when it is time for someone to go. If voters think a councillor has over stayed his welcome, is coasting or perhaps has become palsy walsy with the development community there’s a simple solution - vote for someone else.
I think I'm changing my mind, though. Perhaps I’m just following the crowd because I believe most voters, if asked, would say eight years (two terms) of municipal service is enough.
Long serving members can find something else to do. If they want to return they can try again next time.
What do you think?
P.S. I’m pleased that Walter Mulkewich has his blog up and running again (see frame the issues) I’m not sure where the 21 year Council veteran and former mayor stands on term limits.