An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S MUCH SPECULATION these days about this year’s civic election. Who will win the mayor’s job? How many and who will run for council seats? Will the new council be left, right, business people or working folks?
At this point, such guesswork isn’t worth a cup of coffee, but there are other legitimate discussions to be held about those we elect.
Term lengths are one. I and others have proposed that municipal councils should be elected for three years — as in the old days — instead of the current four. Putting mayors and councillors in office for four years is just too long, both for the candidates and the public.
Another issue is the number of council members. I’ve often said Kamloops would do nicely with a mayor and six councillors instead of eight. Cheaper and probably more efficient.
A bigger issue than both of those things is the number of terms anyone can serve. Some B.C. mayors and councillors have stuck around for 30 years or more and that’s too long.
The problem with letting them run for election as many times as they want is that it becomes a career. Instead of public service, it turns into employment, and they become dependent on it to make a living or, at least, supplement their income.
Long-in-the-tooth mayors and councillors become too focused on keeping their jobs rather than standing on principle. They forget why they ran in the first place.
So what would a good limit be? Could be two terms, three terms or maybe four, but whatever it is, there needs to be a best before date for politicians, whether it be the number of terms or the number of years.
A limit on years would cover off shortened terms due to by-elections. For example, it could be four terms or 12 years. Or less. Whatever, putting a ceiling on how long people serve would make for better government.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.