As has been reported by the Toronto media, a member of Toronto council recently brought up an idea of looking at imposing term limits on municipal councillors in that city. I don’t think term limits are a good idea for the municipal level, in Toronto or in the communities The Standard covers.
First off, presently, there is nothing stopping a member of council from simply not running in a future election, if they feel there needs to be turnover on council, and I feel that should remain to be their choice. If someone is qualified enough and is trusted by their community enough to be re-elected then it would make sense, they should be allowed to serve the community they reside in for as long as they feel they can or would like to.
On that note, let’s talk about what term limits would mean to voters in the municipality. It would be a way of governmental procedure telling voters who they can and can’t vote for. A candidate the residents trust might not be able to get on the ballot if they’ve already served the maximum term imposed. Locally, this could also lead to a lot less competition on the ballot as candidates might be turned off by the fact they can only work for the municipality for so long. I think, if the residents want to see and have a choice of various talented individuals, then governments should not be picky about who gets on the ballot come election time. Trust the voters to make a change if they feel it is necessary.
For those worried the current system doesn’t allow for enough turnover on council, you merely have to look at the last municipal election in Scugog. Janna Guido in Ward 2, was the one incumbent who retained her seat, while four newcomers were elected to council, showing change is always possible in an election.
So far in Canada there aren’t term limits at the provincial or federal levels. I don’t know why it would make sense to try it at the municipal level.
Lastly, sometimes it takes a while for certain projects to be accomplished, even through multiple terms of council, at the municipal level. As the old saying goes, the wheels of government turn slowly. One only has to look at ongoing projects in Uxbridge and Scugog, such as the Brock Street Culvert, Lake Scugog Enhancement Project, the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog, and the Second Access Road for Scugog Island to see the proof of that. Now, on that note, let me just state, some projects simply just take longer than others to complete. Certain councillors, if they work hard enough and earn the trust of voters, should be allowed to see these projects through to completion.
It looks like, from what I’ve read thus far, this term limit proposal is not going to happen anytime soon, and that’s a good thing as I think it just doesn’t make sense right now to impose term limits at the municipal level.
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Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy