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Term limits needed: Governors can grow complacent

By JR Ortega
Oct. 31, 2010 at 5:31 a.m.
Updated Nov. 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.


THE ISSUETexas is one of 14 states that does not have a term limit for governor.

Because of it, Gov. Rick Perry, if re-elected on Tuesday, will make history by entering his third four-year term as Texas' longest-serving governor.

Meanwhile states like California, who have a two-term limit, are getting ready to say goodbye to their governor, despite good or bad popularity.

Texas has not had a term limit in 141 years, but is that to say a limit like the one in California wouldn't work?

The idea sparks debate on both sides of the fence.

For Mary Wilkins, when it comes to not having a gubernatorial term limit, things get old - fast.

The Victoria resident said with fresh new faces and ideas, politics will stay interesting.

"I feel there should be a term limit," she said. "It's new blood. People have different opinions."

Texas is one of 14 states that doesn't have a term limit for governor.

Kelli Gill, the Democratic county chairman, said no matter what the party affiliation, more than two terms is too long.

"After they win a second term, they've become entrenched," she said. "It makes it more difficult for anyone new to come in. Then it becomes a centralization of power."

In California, it wasn't until 1990 that term limits for governors were introduced.

A governor can only have two, four-year terms, meaning current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's reign as governor ends in January.

Gill said a system like that works great, but the decision to implement a term limit should be up to the voter.

"As far as here in Texas, the voters should decide," she said. "For me, that's most important, getting the people's feedback."

Gill agrees that: newly elected governor, no matter how popular or unpopular the former one was, is very forward-thinking for the state.

The proposition that passed term limits in California was Proposition 140, and passed with 52 percent who approved it and 47 percent disapproving it, according to the California Secretary of the State Office.

"Having term limits brings in fresh ideas and new blood into the system," said Gill. "It takes away that whole, 'you have to wait your turn' feel."

Gill disagreed with Joe Sekul, a government professor at Victoria College, who said term limits are not a good idea because the election stands as a term limit.

"The incumbent already has name recognition and fundraisers," she said.

Some voters are not as informed about the candidates and make the election see-saw when they only vote on name recognition.

If term limits are ever placed for the Texas governor, the only downside would be losing a popular by majority governor, she added.

Wilkins maintained that should be the way of the game.

"That doesn't mean they should be there for a lifetime," she said. "I feel like as they get older, they aren't as capable of taking on the responsibility of the position."

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