Editorial

Let’s let the voters do the term limiting of public officials

To the editor:

RE: Editorial about applying term limits policy to Dorr Township.

by Lynne Mandaville

It is so easy for some people to boil situations down to “let’s get rid of the person.” When discontent arises, it’s often a combination of factors that create a situation, so rather than address the factors, the impulse is to get rid of the persons.

I would suggest that people don’t want to take the time to address bigger pictures.

They want instant solutions, just like they want instant gratification in their lives. They jump to the conclusion that old equates with obsolete. But that’s not true. Old often equates with wisdom, life experience, emotional maturity, and a host of other positive personality traits that are thrown out with the bathwater when a person is discarded out of hand.

This is what Mr. Young is referring to when speaking of the Michigan State Legislature. When a legislator’s term is limited, a sense of history doesn’t get a chance to form. The knowledge of what came before, what led up to the current state of affairs, is lost. Special interests want that to happen. It allows for knee-jerk reactions instead of long-term solutions. It erases the mistakes, as well as the successes, by erasing the public servants.

Mr. Young is correct, in my opinion, about the successors to Paul Hillegonds. Few, if any, of those successors came into office with a long-term, big picture intent to serve. They all knew that their time was limited and they’d better accomplish what they could in the least amount of time, and that those accomplishments weren’t necessarily for the good of their constituents, but for their own personal gains, whether they be political agendas, financial gain, or power.

Long term public service entails establishing a legacy. In my experience, legacy means leaving something of importance to a community after one is gone. And those legacies, if you think about them, also encompass character traits we admire as a society – honesty, initiative, motivation, imagination, vision and commitment among others.

Like Mr. Young, I believed long ago that legislatively imposed term limits were and continue to be a big mistake. Voters themselves are term limiters. When they exercise their rights to vote they are saying yea or nay to a person’s continuing in office. Their votes indicate whether the incumbent has earned the public trust to continue to represent that public.

If it were mine to decide (and thank goodness it is not any one person’s ability to decide), I would rescind the law limiting terms of office on any level. I would encourage the people to take that responsibility back into their own hands rather than abdicate the power to an intangible piece of legislation. The people do have brains and minds of their own.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lynn Mandaville was director of the Henika District Library in Wayland from 1985 to 2014 and knows something about long-time service. She now lives in retirement with her family in Arizona.

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