Monroe voters asked to decide on term limits

  • By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
  • Friday, October 21, 2011 12:01am
  • Local NewsMonroe

MONROE — The mayor and City Council members could soon have a limit on how many years they can serve.

On the Nov. 8 general election, voters will decide on the advisory Proposition No. 2, which sets a limit of two four-year terms or nine years maximum anyone can serve.

The terms do not have to be consecutive. After the maximum is reached, elected city officials would need to wait another eight years before serving again.

While it’s an advisory vote, the council would be expected to pass it into law if it’s backed by the voters.

For current council members, it would only go into affect after their current term ends.

On the current council, only Tony Balk and Kurt Goering would be ineligible to serve another term. Balk is not running for re-election. Goering’s current term ends in 2013.

Goering was the one who brought up the issue in May.

“You need more people with experience rather than one person with a lot of experience,” Goering said.

Goering also wrote the pro statement for the voter’s pamphlet.

Almost all levels of government have term limits so the city should have one too, he said. By forcing long-term incumbents to take a break between terms, more newcomers would be encouraged to run for public office.

Then the political races become more about ideas rather than names, Goering said.

Opponents of the measure believe it only limits the choices for the voters.

“Voters should not be told who they cannot vote for,” said Mitch Ruth, former councilman and one of the three-member committee who wrote the con statement in the pamphlet.

Ruth is also running against Councilman Jim Kamp in this election.

If he wins, Ruth would not be able to seek re-election if this measure becomes law, according to the city.

People who have served on the council before have the advantage that they have already gone through the learning curve, Ruth said. Also, if the issue is to get new ideas in city government, then that can be fixed with more public involvement, he said.

Monroe does not have a problem in voting out council members it does not want, Ruth said. With the measure, the city may lose by not being able to retain the people voters want, he said.

“After finding good leaders, we need to keep them,” Ruth said.

But Goering’s response that a “good leader” is a subjective term.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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