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The Lion's Tale

Term limits bring new perspective

Jesse Edberg, Guest Columnist

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The past couple of years have seen an unprecedented wave of anti-establishment populism sweep through the nation. The 2016 election sent these populist ripples through the nation, most locally in the “yes” vote on the Montgomery County referendum to impose a three consecutive term limit on county council members and executives.

There are many reasons why it was right and just to impose term limits on the Montgomery County Council. The U.S. came to a similar realization in 1951 when it ratified the 22nd Amendment outlawing presidents for serving more than two terms. Even before 1951, only serving two terms as president was an unwritten rule broken only once.

Many opponents of term limits for congressional offices argue that legislative bodies are a very different platform for an otherwise justified principle. The principle at hand, in this situation, being that the abuses of power and corruption that come without term limits should be avoided at all costs, even through removing officers from government, based on time in that office.

Term limits are especially important at the local level. Local government was designed to be managed by the community instead of distant career politicians. Life-long politicians serve as a block that keeps out potential local leadership along with new ideas. This is the case when establishments are formed in local government, where long-serving bureaucrats can form relationships with other bureaucrats, lobbyists and corporations. This establishment, elitist culture makes it hard for new leaders and ideas to intrude on their party. With term limits, there will be a more rapid circulation of local leaders that want to get involved in local politics with new ideas and solutions.

Even at the local level, establishment politicians can let their power go towards themselves instead of their constituents. George Leventhal, the most senior member of the county council, used his power and influence as an established political force to attack possible 2018 council executive candidate and political outsider David Trone based on unsubstantiated and unproven claims of pay-for-play. Trone fired back against the career politician stating that Leventhal has a history of using his political power to create false claims in order to hurt political opponents.

Term limits in county council can only help new ideas and fresh leaders make their way into Rockville to lead Montgomery County into the future instead of its current state of safe complacency. They will build an environment for progress instead of the uncompetitive cesspool of leadership that exists today. This is already happening as longtime politicians such as Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal will all be unable to run for another term next election. This freeing of one-third of the council seats will open a door to new ideas and fresh perspectives as well as close the door on corruption and career politics.

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