weight lifting 07 150x150 The Weak Argument For Eliminating Term Limits In Amherst

In 2006, the Amherst Town Board passed a law limiting Board members to two consecutive 4 year terms. Board Members Mark Manna and Steve Sanders ran for the Amherst Town Board in 2007  and 2009 knowing that they were limited to serving two terms. Recently Mark Manna and Steve Sanders introduced a Resolution asking the Amherst Government Study Committee to review whether term limits  in Amherst should continue or be changed.

I predicted in an earlier post that the result of this exercise would be the elimination of term limits in Amherst. It is truly amazing to me how once people get a taste of the power and perks of elected office they simply do not want to leave.

Below is a copy of the one page report issued by the Amherst Government Study Committee, which surprise surprise calls for eliminating term limits in Amherst on the weak justification that “In recent memory, no town board member has served more than two consecutive terms. This simple fact calls into question the necessity of the Term Limits Law as currently written.”

Well by my recent memory, Dan Ward served three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2010, William Kindel served three consecutive terms from 1996 to 2008. Mark Manna loves being an elected official, he switched parties in order to gain support for his first race and since being elected has considered running for County Legislature, state legislature, Congress and is now thinking about running for town supervisor. Manna desperately wants term limits in Amherst removed so that he can be the third person in recent memory to serve a third term if necessary to set the stage for his moving up the political ladder.

Ironically just when the Amherst term limits law is going to force a politician from running again it is deemed to be unnecessary. What do you think of the Government Study Committee opinion?

Here is the Government Study Committee Report:

In June of 2012, the Amherst Town Board directed the Amherst Government Studies Committee (the “Committee”) to investigate Chapter 55 of the Amherst Town Code. This chapter is commonly referred to as the “Term Limits Law”. The chapter is reproduced as Exhibit One and is attached. For the remainder of this document, Chapter 55 will be referred to as the “Term Limits Law”.

The Amherst Town Board (“Town Board”) has asked the Committee to evaluate if the term limits law should be repealed, amended or altered. If the Committee feels the Term Limits Law is necessary, but the number of terms should be changed, that should be discussed. The Town Board has also directed that if other public offices aside from those discussed in the law should be covered, the Committee should discuss that as well.

Terms limits currently exist locally in Hamburg, Lackawanna, Amherst and Tonawanda. The Amherst Term Limits Law was adopted in August of 2006. In the six years since the laws adoption, it has not been invoked to remove any legislator. In recent memory, no town board member has served more than two consecutive terms. This simple fact calls into question the necessity of the Term Limits Law as currently written.

Democrat or Republican, man or woman, the voters of Amherst have imposed their own version of a Term Limits Law on those who run for the Town Board and for Supervisor. It is the opinion of the Committee that a term limit of two or more terms is unnecessary.

A term limit of one term has been suggested, and was heavily debated within the Committee. The consensus of the Committee is that a one term limit upon those who would hold public office is an artificial and unnecessary restriction. Talented elected officials would be prevented from continuing in office. Admittedly, poor elected officials would be removed quickly, but the voters of Amherst are capable of removing officials that displease them without a Term Limits Law

After considerable research, discussion and debate, the Committee has come to the general consensus that a Term Limits Law is unnecessary for the Town of Amherst.

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About The Author

The definition of reinvent is:to replace with an entirely new version, to make over completely, to recast something familiar or old into a different form.In my opinion we need to reinvent government, business and ourselves. Today’s world is about constant change driven by the power of new ideas.For the past 17 years as an attorney, I have worked in government at the county, city, authority and school district level in the Buffalo, NY area. I have seen first hand the need for reinventing how government operates. For a period of four years, I served as Chief of Staff to the 9 member City of Buffalo Common Council. Government must engage the talents and skills of its citizens by becoming more collaborative and transparent in its decision-making and operations. Utilizing technology as a tool to engage citizens is something all governments need to explore.I have great respect for entrepreneurs as they put their passion into a vision, which results in new products, new services and new jobs. Entrepreneurs are on the front lines of change. As an adjunct college instructor, I see how students and everyone for that matter must continually change and reinvent themselves to survive and be successful in today’s crazy world economy.Some of my favorite change agent writers are Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Gary Hamel and Guy Kawasaki. I welcome the opportunity to meet new people, to further my own learning and to share ideas.On a personal note I am 47 years old, my other half Cheryl is an attorney in private practice and together we have three children, Michael age 20 and Joseph age 14 and our newest shock of an addition Julia, born 11/2/11.