Editorial: Term limits have expired
August 24, 2011
Every few years there's a regrettable exodus of valuable elected officials — most of whom are still willing to serve — from the corridors of public agencies in Craig and Moffat County.
The barrier to their continued oversight of public policy and spending typically isn't waning voter support or the emergence of an opposing candidate with different ideas.
No, the obstacle is term limits, a restriction that has become unreasonable for our small community, where qualified replacements are hard to find.
The Editorial Board cites two elected leaders as examples of qualified officials who were recently ushered out of office because of term limits, when an extended stay would have been more appropriate: Craig Mayor Don Jones and Moffat County Coroner Owen Grant.
Jones has a long track record of service to city government, and thankfully that service continues on the city council.
Still, Jones was a good figurehead for the city, and as mayor he led the council admirably through difficult times and tough issues. Had term limits not been in place, his leadership could have continued.
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Grant, who owns and operates Grant Mortuary, is the most logical choice for coroner in Moffat County. Term limits prevented him from continuing, making Grant the prime example of why such limitations should be eliminated here.
The Editorial Board's opinion isn't a referendum on the officials who succeeded Jones and Grant, mayor Terry Carwile and coroner Kirk McKey.
By most accounts, the new mayor and coroner are also accomplishing good things in office.
The board is simply citing Jones and Grant as leaders who were required to exit perhaps too early. Should Carwile and McKey continue to perform to the public's approval, they too will someday be painted into a corner by term limits.
There are more examples of leaders senselessly culled by term limits.
Jo Ann Baxter, president of the Moffat County School Board, is finishing the end of her board term.
Baxter has more experience, knowledge and understanding of public education than most administrators.
But, the Moffat County School District is going to lose her insights and institutional knowledge at a time when our district cannot afford such a loss.
Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz, who was once a dark horse candidate for the position, has grown to become perhaps the most popular elected leader in Moffat County.
But, and here's that old culprit at work again, term limits will require his departure in a few years, at the end of his second term.
Arguments in favor of term limits are most often centered on eliminating an official's potential for creating a monopoly in office. That's a valid point. At the state and federal levels, and in more populated cities, term limits probably have a rightful place.
But, not in our community.
Time and again, term limits have shown to be contrary to the public's best interest, not to mention an overlap of the best recourse for bouncing an ineffective elected official — the ballot box.