Case yet to be made for term limits

Mar 05, 2020

Although we have asked the question multiple times, the Camden Charter Commission has not explained why it is seeking term limits for select board members.

The commission is working on an update of the Town Charter. As part of this work, it has recommended select board members be limited to three consecutive three-year terms. This is a significant change for the town.

It is also unusual for town governments across the state, we have learned. Very few have term limits for select board members.

We assume the commission has good reasons for this suggestion, but for some reason is unwilling to share whatever they are with us. So far, the answers we have received to the question have been vague at best.

Vice Chairman Lowrie Sargent said the hope is that term limits will create a steady supply of new members, while retaining members who possess institutional memory. This does not make much sense, since term limits could mean getting rid of longtime board members who have institutional memory.

Chairwoman Deb Dodge said term limits will open a pipeline for new members, while retaining those who can provide perspective. Again, how do term limits retain folks with perspective?

We would argue that if a good case for the change cannot be made, perhaps this proposal should be rejected.

Term limits tend to be something people support or disagree with based on their political and philosophical beliefs.

We periodically hear the call for fresh blood on various boards of elected officials. We also hear appreciation for longtime board members who volunteer their time to serve their community.

While fresh blood on boards sounds good, there is nothing to prevent voters from voting out a select board member they are not happy with, whereas term limits make it impossible to keep someone who may be doing fine work. In addition, we also hear that it is sometimes difficult finding people to serve on these boards.

For now, this feels like a solution in search of a problem, but we don't know what we don't know.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Mar 09, 2020 12:49

I thought everyone was positive and I had done my time.  At some point there must be turnover.

Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Mar 09, 2020 12:46

Interesting thought/Opinion.  I can see both sides.  I served on a city board for 9 years and tterm limited myself after 9 years despite being chairman my last 1 1/2 years.  We had accomplished a lot but as New members began  to join the board we revisited some former issues and tackled new ones .

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