Two Spokane Valley City Councilmen are proposing a new addition to Spokane Valley politics: term limits.
Councilman Sam Wood has asked twice to get term limits put on the advance agenda but as of Tuesday it wasn’t scheduled.
“I would like to see two terms, but I’m open to ideas,” Wood said.
This is a major election year in Spokane Valley with five council seats up for election.
Co-sponsor of the proposal Councilman Ed Pace said there should be time enough to get it done so it will take effect after the November election.
Pace said he would like to see two terms as the maximum a council member can serve.
“I see term limits as a guarantee of fresh blood every two terms,” Pace said.
He added that term limits create a structure that encourages people to get involved.
Spokane Valley Councilwoman Pamela Haley does not agree.
“I feel like we already have term limits because our terms are determined by voters,” Haley said. “Established term limits are saying that voters are too stupid to figure out who they don’t like.”
Haley said another concern is getting enough candidates to run. She pointed out that her seat is up for election in November, but she does not yet have an opponent. Neither does Councilman Mike Munch.
“This job requires a lot of time commitment, and it’s quite frankly not a lot of pay,” Haley said. “I’m not sure how interested people are in running.”
Pace said elected officials are obligated to help find new candidates, and he’s often repeated that he doesn’t want to serve more than two terms.
“I don’t think it would be a problem to get people to run,” Pace said.
Pace’s seat is also up for election and former Spokane Valley City Councilman Ben Wick has announced he’s running for it.
Pace said he would like to see broader finance reform, too, including limiting campaign contributions in Spokane Valley City Council elections to voters who live in Spokane Valley.
City Attorney Cary Driskell said he’s not sure how or even if campaign finance reform falls under city jurisdiction, but term limits could be decided by an ordinance adopted by the City Council.
Wood said term limits put an end to career politicians who grow power hungry once they are elected.
“There definitely is two sides to this, and I want to hear that discussion,” Wood said. “But in good representative government, you go, you serve and then you go home. I think that’s healthy.”
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