Support Term Limits for Philadelphia City Council

February 21, 2019

Philadelphia City Councilmember Allan Domb has announced that he will introduce a bill to limit terms on Philadelphia City Council to three (3) four-year terms.  I am in favor of this proposal.

 

I think it's pretty telling that veteran politicians spoke out against the proposed bill just minutes after Domb announced it, according to this article on whyy.

 

My response to Councilmember Curtis Jones's statement that it takes multiple terms to understand how to get things done in Council:

If it takes you twelve years to figure out how to be effective in any work environment, then you shouldn't be in the position.  Of course any job will come with a learning curve, I get it.  But to publicly admit that you need more than a decade just to understand how to do your job, gimme a break.

 

My response to Councilmember David Oh and Councilmember Bill Greenlee's respective statements, both to the effect that term limits are unnecessary, since elections serve as the mechanism to unseat 'bad' councilmembers:

This isn't a question of simply unseating 'bad' councilmembers.  It goes deeper than that.  It's about the spirit of democracy, a democracy that is truly representative of the people's needs and conditions, a democracy that is regularly invigorated by fresh perspectives and new leadership.  Let's face it, any company or organization that maintains the same leadership for too long tends to become stale.

 

And in a city like Philadelphia, which is basically a one-party town, it's not as if there are always two legitimate candidates to choose from.  So the idea that elections are the answer sounds fine in theory, but is somewhat disingenuous in practice.

 

As a regular citizen, I believe the councilmembers' positions above sound self-serving, like once they get their foot in the door, they will oppose anything that will make them walk out of the door, except their own decision to do so, even if it's many years later.  I get the subjective, individual desire for job security.  But these politicians must get the higher, noble objective of democracy: a government that never gets stale (a staleness which can breed complacency at best and corruption at worst), but rather a government that evolves with the conditions of society, that is truly representative of the electorate, and is responsive to the people whom it serves.

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F. TIGHE BURNS, ESQ.

215.732.0101

230 S Broad St, Suite 1400
Philadelphia, PA 19102