'Term Limitation' Best Exercised By Voters At Ballot Box

AS I SEE IT

December 29, 1991|By Sharon Hornberger

Democracy in action is a beautiful thing.

The Constitution of Maryland, Declaration of Rights, Article 1, states, "That all Governmentof right originates from the People."

It continues, "That the right of the People to participate in theLegislature is the best security of liberty and the foundation of all free Government; for this purpose, elections ought to be free and frequent; and every citizen having the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution, ought to have the right of suffrage."

Under existing statute, Maryland and its residents are guaranteed a tried-and-true means of limiting legislators' terms in office. We needn't overhaulthe electoral system to set arbitrary and artificial term limits as some have proposed.

Elections are held frequently. If citizens arepleased with the work of an elected official, he or she is returned to office; if the majority is displeased, the candidate will hear themessage loud and clear in being booted out.

This form of "term limitation" has worked effectively in Maryland for more than 350 years.

The Maryland legislature works on a committee system, with appointments based on seniority in office.

You make your way through theranks by becoming expert in a certain field of legislation.

And when you are looking at 2,000 to 3,000 bills per 90-day session, it takes years to become proficient in one area of the lawmaking process.

Carroll has benefited from this seniority system in the General Assembly and Congress.

Former state Sen. Raymond E. Beck was appointed to the prestigious Budget and Taxation Committee in his first yearin the Senate because of his years of experience in the House Ways and Means Committee.

State Sen. Charles H. Smelser serves on that same Budget and Taxation Committee and serves as chairman of the Capital Budget Subcommittee. Smelser was assigned the important chairmanship because of his 20-plus years of experience in the legislature.

Delegate Richard C. Matthews, chairman of the Carroll delegation and a member of the House for two decades, is a prime example of how longevity can make you proficient in a subject. Matthews serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and he is not a lawyer.

Representative Beverly B. Byron serves on the powerful Armed Services Committee, whereshe is subcommittee chairman. Her seniority in the House of Representatives brought her the appointment.

The citizens of Carroll, who are part of the 4th and 5th legislative districts and the 6th Congressional District, have repeatedly returned these elected officials to their offices because they have consistently done a good job for their constituents. They were and are responsive to constituents and their needs.

When the citizens of Carroll or any jurisdiction are displeased with the representation they receive, they will limit terms byrebelling at the ballot box.

Democracy is a beautiful thing.

As the old saying goes, "It may not be the best system, but we'll stick with it until something better comes along."

We have a fundamental right to a freely elected government of our own choosing.

Let'snot give up our constitutional right to elect the best candidate simply because he or she has served a fixed number of years or terms.

If we feel something is wrong with an elected official or that person's performance in office, let's correct the problem by not returninghim or her to that office.

Let's not overhaul the whole system and kick out good people who have served us well.

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