Ferry: Don’t give county commissioners a third term
With election season fast approaching, we need to start looking at some of the issues that will be on the ballot. And there are a couple of doozies.
This week, I’ll start with the question posed by our current county commissioners asking us to extend their terms to another four years. Really? Is that some kind of a sick joke?
Anyone with a functioning brain knows that the absolute best thing we could do to correct the problems in Washington is to find a way to enforce term limits. So tell me why in God’s name would anyone think we should go down that rabbit hole in Eagle County? I mean it’s stunningly arrogant of our commissioners to think anyone would even consider such a thing. Like we can’t live without them deciding our future.
You know, in the old days, way before anyone decided it was a great deal to feed at the public trough as a career, politicians took turns. “OK John,” said Ben, “I’ll go off to Congress and serve this term, but when it’s over, it’s your turn. I have to get back and mind the farm.” Never did it occur to the founding fathers or their early successors that serving in the government was intended to be a life’s work.
Of course in those days, they weren’t paid. They did it for love of country and a need to serve. The goal was to help form a government that defined a country in which men could grow and prosper under a system that ensured freedom and unlimited opportunity for its citizens.
First meeting in New York and then moving to Philadelphia, it wasn’t until 1800 that the District of Columbia became the center of government. But it took a long time before the free ride began. Even as far back as Teddy Roosevelt, elected officials were expected to fund themselves when they rose to power. Taft received support from his brother in order to pay for his lifestyle in the nation’s Capitol.
I’m not sure when the system changed so drastically that we started footing the bill, but when it happened, the incentive was there to keep it going. Elected officials started believing that we owed them the lifestyle they enjoyed at our expense. And they now do anything and everything they can to keep it going.
So the question this November is do we want to help facilitate this vicious cycle where getting elected the first time sets the stage for a lifelong career? One of the supposed justifications for asking for this extension is to provide continuity — to take advantage of their expertise and not put new people in charge when these commissioners have such a wealth of knowledge.
Give me a break. Already, Kathy Chandler-Henry will have served 11 years by the time her current term expires and if this vote passes, she’ll be able to serve four more. As a clarification, she was appointed to her first term and that term didn’t count toward an elected eight years as the system now allows. So if this bill passes, she could get another four years for a whopping total of 15 years. As Joe would say, “Come on, man. Enough is enough.”
And interestingly, none of the current commissioners, who were responsible for putting this question to the voters, have suggested that they would not benefit from this decision. Typically, for example, if a town board decides to vote an increase in pay for the offices they hold, it does not apply to their tenure and only effects their replacements.
Not these guys. If this passes, they are ready to step up for another four years “for the good of the community.” What they really mean is for their good, also known as feathering their own nest. That is their incentive, but it shouldn’t be ours.
Vote no on this dangerous and arrogant request. It was proposed and voted on before and lost for good reason. To voluntarily sign up for avoidable trouble is, well let me just quote Joe again, “Come on, man. That’s nuts.”
Kaye Ferry is the chair of the Eagle County Republicans.