No local office holder should serve more than two terms

If elected, I’m only serving a maximum of two terms. I’ve long written that pledge here and elsewhere, and believe it’s worth every candidate to take the same pledge.

George Washington established the precedent for our nation’s executive, and most states have term limits on their governors for much of their histories. But local government frequently does not. That might make sense in small towns where the pool of job-seekers is small. But it doesn’t make sense in Indianapolis. There are plenty of qualified people to serve in elected positions here.

The best I can tell, the only reason I can see why a person would want to serve as a Councilor, Mayor, Sheriff, or other official seemingly indefinitely is for “legacy building”. Office holders usually have a pet issue or two they want to make an impact in. For our Mayor’s that’s been things like Unigov for Mayor Lugar, sports venues in the case of Mayor Hudnut, and sustainability for Mayor Ballard.

Councilors have similar projects. For many, the focus is admirable and good for the City. But taking 10, 15, or 30 years as some legislators and councilors do isn’t healthy for the City. We do not live and work and pay into a government so others can build a name for themselves. That level of hubris is the anathema of the original intent of public service.

Public service works best for the residents of a city or state when the people serving care for constituents but generally don’t want to be there. To say nothing of needing officials willing to make hard and often unpopular votes for the long-term benefit of a city. It becomes much more difficult to vote to cut this or raise that when your primary concern is re-election.

Two terms is enough. By then, someone else with a different set of experiences should be able to share talent with the City.

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Justin Harter for District 12