Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why Term Limit Extension Is a Bad Idea – Reason 1

The Prince George’s County Council is putting forward a ballot question in the November election to extend the term limits for County Council members and the County Executive from the current two terms to three terms. This is a terrible idea for a multitude of reasons, and I will be posting about those reasons in the coming days and weeks.

My biggest problem with the term limit extension stems from my well-documented concern regarding the undue influence incumbent politicians and party insiders have on our elections. This whole blog was born out my frustration with the Maryland system of “elections.”

In all democratic systems, incumbent politicians have many built-in advantages. That is why it is not easy to beat an incumbent anywhere. However, in Maryland this incumbency protection is nearly bulletproof thanks to our system of candidate slates and “sample ballot” advertisements. As long as an elected official gets along with his/her fellow incumbents well enough to appear on the joint sample ballot, it is nearly impossible for an incumbent to lose in a primary. And, in a one-party county such as Prince George’s, winning the primary guarantees victory in the general election.

When we have this type of extreme incumbency protection built into the system, term limits are the only avenue for getting new blood and new ideas into the political system. If we extend the term limits and eventually get rid of them (as is the stated objective of those pushing for the term limit extension), our system becomes completely closed and dominated by a handful of long-term incumbents.

I Was Right

Prince George’s County Council’s proposal to extend term limits for its own members and the County Executive is pulling me back to this blog after a summer hiatus. But, before I get to that topic, I feel the need to gloat a bit about my District 9 Board of Education primary race prediction.

Once we knew that Sonya Williams was going to be the chosen candidate of the incumbent elected officials and her name was going to appear on the “sample ballot” advertisements being mailed to District 9 voters, I knew the BOE primary race was over. These June primary election results, as reported by the Maryland State Board of Elections, prove I was right:

  • Sonya Williams: 5,383 votes (42.3%)
  • Domonique Flowers: 4,502 votes (35.4%)
  • Denise Joseph: 1,826 votes (14.4%)
  • Johnnie Isaac: 1,010 (7.9%)

For me, the only surprise was that the race was as close as it was. I know that Mr. Flowers had prepared for his campaign for a long time and worked very hard, and that obviously shows in the results. But it still wasn’t enough to overcome the advantage provided by incumbent endorsements and their sample ballots.

It is important to note that this BOE race is not over. The top two vote getters from the primary—Williams and Flowers—will appear on the November general election ballot. When it comes to that election, I will stick with my prediction: Incumbent support and those sample ballots will carry Williams to victory.