Thursday, August 5, 2010

Campaign update #7


Are term limits a Republican or Democratic thing? Neither!

Recent (2009) polling in Florida suggest that large majorities of Republicans (80%), Democrats (76%) and Independents (80%) all oppose the weakening of 8-year term limits. And, just as naturally, most incumbent politicians -- of all parties! -- are for weakening or abolishing term limits. The real divide over term limits is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between power and people.

Consider this: It was reported in the Palm Beach Post that the some specific leaders in the local Democratic Party, including Chairman Mark Alan Siegel, sent out emails urging their rank and file to sign the petition to weaken West Palm Beach term limits. This was certainly not done to advance the interests or beliefs of Democrats in West Palm Beach, the vast majority of which support term limits, nor for the two Democratic commissioners that are seeking the office of mayor, Molly Douglas and Jeri Muoio. No, it was done to benefit the current incumbent, also a Democrat.

Once again, we see the divide -- within one party -- between the people and challengers versus the incumbency. People versus power. We've seen it before in the GOP too. Back in 2002, the successful citizen initiative to limit the terms of Palm Beach County Commissioners was actively opposed by the chair of county Republican Party, sitting Commisssioner Mary McCarty, even while the rank and file Republicans supported the measure! People versus power, once again.

Hence, this campaign to defend West Palm Beach 8-year term limits has both Democrats and Republicans on its informal board and there is no consensus among us on who should, or should not be, the mayor of West Palm Beach. What unites us is our belief that term limits provide an important brake on power, particularly in a strong mayor form of government. We recognize the legal right of the mayor to run again after sitting out a term. We want to see this rule applied fairly to mayors of both parties and to prevent self-interested politicians of any party from bending the rules in their favor.


Speaking of parties, Keep WPB Term Limits Chair Rick Shepherd received a enthusiastic ovation Wednesday night when he spoke to the county's Republican Executive Committee meeting about defending the city's voter-approved 8-year term limit. The meeting was held at the county commission chambers in downtown West Palm Beach and attracted over well over 200 people including many sitting public officials and candidates. Our committee has not been asked to present at a local Democratic club yet, but we are eager to accept such an invitation.


John Cohen, a potential candidate for the West Palm Beach City Commission, has stamped some attractive lapel buttons emblazoned with a big green check mark and the legend: "WPB Term Limits." For more info, contact John. Interestingly, John is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Originally from Great Britain where he held elective office, he has not yet chosen a U.S. party, although he has been attending local meetings of both. He is a rare genuine nonpartisan to be running in the nominally nonpartisan city elections.


Our presentation to the South Florida 9-12 Project on Tuesday was noted in their website recap of the event.