County Council member wants two-term limit

November 28, 1993|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Staff Writer

Term limits, the latest rage to sweep the halls of elected government office, will reach into the Harford County Council, too, if Councilman Barry Glassman has his wish.

The District D Republican plans to introduce legislation before the County Council in January that would limit council members to two consecutive four-year terms.

If approved, the legislation would be put to a vote by the public in next November's election as a County Charter amendment. The language would be similar to existing language in the charter that limits the county executive to two consecutive terms, Mr. Glassman said.

"This is part of an overall reform effort at all levels of government," the councilman said. "People are looking for ways to right our political system. And I think we need to start where government is closest to the people."

The legislation would not preclude someone from filling one council seat for two consecutive terms and then going on to serve as council president -- an at-large position -- for two more. A council member could also be re-elected to office for two more terms after sitting out a term.

"I think that eight years is plenty," said Mr. Glassman. "This is how citizen democracy should work. You either move on to higher office or go back to where you were.

"It's not something you need to do a long time. You can bring your skills to government and then leave. But to have a good citizen democracy you need to have that rotation."

Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson said he thinks term-limit legislation is unnecessary at the council level because "there has been a steady turnover" of representatives through the process of elections every four years.

"I don't really think we have a problem in Harford County," he said, noting that only three members of the council have served more than two terms in the past 21 years.

"People either lose interest [in serving] or the voters of Harford County are successful in turning out people they don't want in office," he said.

The council president said he advocates term limits for the county executive because that individual "controls the workings of government" and is more susceptible to corruption or to "falling into a rut."

"But at the legislative level, you always have six other people watching you and judging you," he said.

Mr. Glassman says a petition is already being prepared by local citizens to bring the term-limit issue to ballot if the council fails to send it there through legislation. It takes a petition signed by 20 percent of the county's registered voters to bring a charter amendment to referendum.

Anne Arundel, Howard and Prince George's counties all have term limits for council members. Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties have a two-term limit; Howard's limit is three terms.

Mr. Glassman's legislation will be introduced at the County Council's Jan. 4 meeting. A public hearing is scheduled Feb. 1.

If passed, the law would take effect 30 days after the referendum.

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