Cole Sonafrank's

Remarks on August 4th, 1997
Regarding Term Limits

I appreciate and acknowledge the validity of the concerns that people raise while discussing the merits of term limits.

As elected officials, we DO need to be more responsive to those concerns.

We DO need to listen more to our constituents, which for us on the Assembly includes everyone in the Borough.

We DO need to do the very best we can to incorporate all the ideas and concerns we hear into every action we take.

Our community would NOT benefit from having career politicians.

We DO need a wide range of viewpoints directly represented on the Assembly.

We DO benefit from our community's electing fresh faces.

We DO need for everyone elected to public office to be held accountable for the quality of their representation and leadership.

We DO need the folks we elect to reason carefully in the public's interest, not for their own personal gain.

We DO need to elect people who have the experience we believe will enable them to represent our community well.

We DO need to reinvigorate our democracy and restore people's faith in our most civilized and progressive system of government in the world.

Sometimes, we EVEN need to re-elect folks who have proven that their public service is valuable and effective. Sometimes, after two terms in office our representatives may be even better then when we first elected them.

We DO need folks in our community to accept their personal responsibility to make that decision themselves. We DO need people to accept the fact that their vote as well as their voiced opinion is an absolutely necessary if we are to keep our democracy alive. Like most good things it takes hard work to maintain it.

We DO NOT need automatic term limits to take the place of active voter participation. If someone's not representing our community, vote them out of office. Don't sit back quietly pretending that politicians are all the same -- that it doesn't make any difference, so we may as well get rid of them all automatically.

If your representatives don't seem to be listening, talk more not less. You have eleven folks up here plus a Mayor whose responsibility it is to represent everyone. We usually hear from several points of view on any issue so we may not decide the way you want us to, but we had darn well better carefully consider everything you have to say.

Focusing more closely on the ordinance before us, I encourage the Assembly to pass it or at the very least not to vote it down.

We are likely to have a proposition on the ballot offering voters the opportunity to more directly reject or adopt term limits.

As most of you know better than I, our responsibility is one of both representation and leadership. I believe that both functions are fulfilled by passing this ordinance. People have accused me of arrogance for this view. I don't see someone as arrogant for trying to lead people in the direction they seem to want to go.

This is a safe vote. If the proposition is indeed on this fall's ballot, folks will have the opportunity to ratify or reject our action. There is no point in shirking an issue that is already up for public debate. Term limits have sufficient negative impacts on our Borough that it is worth leading our community to repeal them.

The question, then is: How best do we lead?

By avoiding confrontation and tabling this ordinance?

Or by saying: I do not believe term limits are in our community's best interest, and voting to pass this ordinance [thereby putting the repeal of term limits on the ballot].

I know what I think, but I'm not certain it's right.

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