I testified at the City Council meeting today in favor of term limits. There were between 40 and 70 people there to testify in favor of term limits, one woman who was identified to me as a campaign worker for Maureen Feeney (but not verified by me) testified against term limits. The councilors seemed split between any of those who have aspirations for higher office being for term limits, and those who have worked for the city and/or wouldn't appear to have higher elective offices in their immediate future. Tobin, Connolly, Yoon and Flaherty are for term limits, Ciommo, Feeney, Linehan and Yancey are opposed to them. The Mayor told me he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.
Thank you Councilor Feeney for holding this hearing and allowing a vote on this issue.
As far as the proposal, as the saying goes, “you had me at Hello”. As Councilor Yoon has pointed out 9 of the ten largest cities in America have term limits. We know the phrase “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, we have a situation here in Boston where it is virtually impossible to unseat a sitting Mayor, unless he is in jail.
Massachusetts was recently found to be the least competitive of all 50 states in terms of contested elections. I don’t believe that this is something to be proud of. I have questions: Why, and what can we do about it?
Term limits and better campaign finance laws would go a long way towards making our system more fair. Boston is the birthplace of the revolution that brought us a country that believes ‘we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal’. Why not have an electoral system where all participants have equal footing, and the power of incumbency is not an insurmountable mountain to bringing positive change.
I sat down with Mayor Menino recently and he said that if this bill reaches his desk that he will sign it, and why not, it would insure his place as the longest serving Mayor in Boston’s history. I’m not trying to make history here, but I hope you will.
In America, we believe in democracy, that many can and should serve, and that there are many capable and able leaders in our government of and by the people. We live in a cynical world, and people just say I want the truth, well I hope you will allow the citizens a chance to see where every councilor stands on this issue. Which councilors believe a “Mayor for life” is a good thing for public participation and which don’t.
George Washington believed that two terms were enough for him to accomplish his goals, I think he is a good model to go by.
I’m glad we had this talk, and thank you for holding this hearing and voting on this issue.