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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kooiker right on term lengths

The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, a decidedly biased organization with a clear agenda, has again urged the Rapid City Common Council, via the Legal and Finance Committee, to increase the length of terms of the mayor and council. They'd like to the mayor to serve for 4 years and councilpersons to serve for three.

The Journal has a story on it here. Mayor Alan Hanks says he supports changing term lengths by city ordinance so long as it would not affect the current terms. (There are a couple of aldermen Hanks would like to see get voted off the council in the coming election...but I'll save that for another post. Suffice to say he dislikes dissent even more than our current president.)

That's really interesting, since back in 2004, when Jim Shaw was the mayor, he had quite a different view. You can read that here.

"Over the years," Alderman Alan Hanks said, he has "sort of championed the cause" for a three-year mayor term and still believes it's probably the proper thing to do. But he has concerns about how the issue comes up.

"The thing that worries me is when we have a constant effort to change it through the city council instead of through a public vote," he said. "As an elected official, the hardest thing in the world for you to do ... is to extend your own term. That's a very slippery slope for elected officials, whether we're talking about mayor or city council."
Well, things apparently aren't so slippery now. And, he was right back in 2004 when he said:

"Hanks said if the chamber of commerce is interested in moving forward on increasing term lengths, the organization's membership should be more than adequate to circulate petitions to put it on the ballot."

I suppose it should come as no surprise that Ward 2 Alderman Sam Kooiker thinks a move to change the terms should come via a vote. He's right. So was Alderman Hanks. Mayor Hanks, however, appears to be a different guy.

And, back in 2004, the discussion was about a 3-year, not 4-year term for mayor. Now it's about a 4-year term, for mayor and a 3-year term for councilpeople. Hmmm. There is some speculation that our mayor has his sights set on the Lieutenant Governor's job. A 3-year term, would make that choice more difficult.

Personally, I think longer terms for the mayor and the council are probably a good idea. Three years seems about right – for both. And, I think THE PEOPLE ought to make that decision. Let's put it to a vote.

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