Term limits sparks reform

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    Term limits on elected public officials are not a new idea. Term limits are as old as the American Republic, beginning with our first president, George Washington. He understood the value of what was then called “rotation in office” if the new representative democracy was to survive.

    For 144 years thereafter, Washington’s successors as president upheld his two-term tradition. In 1951, the U.S. Congress and the states wrote Washington’s tradition into law as the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Today, at the state level, 20 states, including California, have placed term limits on their governors and state legislators. Lifetime politicians are finally being forced out — either to run for another public office or to return to the private sector.

    On the municipal level, legally enacted term limits were started in Indiana in 1851. As of 1995, 2,890 local governments in the U.S. had enacted term limits. These local governments include New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Smaller California cities have adopted term limits as well, including Cypress, Dana Point, Los Altos, Palo Alto, Redondo Beach and Seal Beach.

    The power of incumbent elected officials has grown even stronger during the past century. Constant news media publicity of elected officials as well as a time-tested fund-raising network of donors makes it almost impossible to defeat incumbents.

    Term limits, coupled with real campaign finance reform, levels the playing field and makes elections fair and competitive. Term limits will help put power back where it belongs — in the hands of Malibu voters.

    Tom Hasse, city councilmember

    Jeff Kramer, former mayor and city councilmember

    John Harlow, former mayor and city councilmember

    Sherman Baylin, local business owner and chair of Malibu Citizens for Term Limits.