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Farmer advocates term limits for mayor's office
Sep 06, 2005 12:00 am
August 31, 2005
As part of a recently announced plan to "improve" city government, Ward 3 Lebanon City Councilor and mayoral hopeful William Farmer advocates term limits for the city's mayoral post.
"I will propose a limit of three terms for the office of mayor," Farmer wrote in the 23-point plan. "Twelve years is long enough for anyone to hold this position of power and influence."
If elected, Farmer said Tuesday he would present a proposal to Lebanon City Council seeking to institute the term limit.
Term limits, he continued, would prevent the city's mayor and its voters from falling into "a rut."
"I believe, based upon experience, that 12 years is long enough for anyone to serve as mayor," Farmer said. "After a while, the mayor, who is the chief manager of the city, gets in a rut, and the people sometimes do likewise."
Seeking his fourth consecutive term in October's election, Lebanon Mayor Don Fox referred to Farmer's suggestion as a "campaign gimmick," noting the Ward 3 councilor never discussed term limits during his tenure as chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party.
Fox added, however, he would support such a plan if it were submitted to city officials by a panel of local residents and later voted on in a referendum.
The mayor noted he plans to form such a committee, if re-elected, and would ensure the panel had "no elected officials" among its members. If the committee determined term limits were necessary, Fox said the issue would ultimately appear on a future ballot.
Still, he continued, term limits are not without their faults.
"I know of a councilman in Nashville. He was very popular and did a wonderful job, very hard-working," Fox said. "The term limits were set at two terms, and he had to leave. Then, people were sorry they ever set those term limits in his district because they liked him so much … All of those people who wanted to vote him back in again didn't have the opportunity to vote for him."
Farmer said he would not oppose any Council action which would send the proposal to city voters, noting a referendum would serve as the "proper vehicle" to take the issue to Lebanon residents.
And while Fox said a public committee should determine the length of any term limit, fellow mayoral candidate Karl "Kip" Puryear took Farmer's plan one step farther, noting he believed three terms was "almost too much."
Citing some of the same reasons for term limits listed by Farmer, Puryear said a two-term limit would foster a regular "cleansing of government."
Puryear also said he would support a referendum on the subject.
"I think two terms is plenty … When you come into anything, you come in with goals and aspirations and platforms and things that you want to accomplish," Puryear said. "A two-term limit is long enough. It's a reasonable amount of time to serve the people, but yet, you don't put yourself in the position of being a career politician."
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.