County term limits survey: Not so popular, yet
By Paul Gorski
I thought there would be a strong response to my new countytermlimits.com website. While there has been quite a bit of traffic to the site, only a dozen or so people have filled out the survey. At this point in the process, I would say the idea of term limits is not that popular in Winnebago County. However, that would be inconsistent with the dozens of people I have met over the past few months that strongly favor terms limits.
As a reminder, I created a website countytermlimits.com to learn whether or not local residents supported limiting the number of terms or years elected county officials could serve. I have been told that term limits is a popular topic on the national level.
One local candidate, John Nelson, running for County Board Chairman, came out in favor of term limits for the offices of chairman and the county board members. Nelson came out strongly for term limits, even signing a term limits pledge. I do not believe he took a position one way or the other on the other county offices.
The pledge is a nice touch, a firm commitment, and his commitment is not tied to whether or not laws are changed. But Nelson’s pledge does not help my survey. I need residents to state whether or not they support term limits. If you do support term limits, how long: eight or 12 years.
I have said this before: I am not so sure term limits are the answer. My problem with term limits is that while the official holding the office will leave, the money backing the candidate will still be around. The contributors behind the scenes will simply find another person to fund, and possibly control, through campaign contributions.
My plan is still to collect the data over the next months. Having a lot of visitors to the site is great, but I need people to fill out the survey. If the topic is popular, I suggest the following: create legislation that would allow individual units of government in Illinois to determine, by voter ballot measures for each government, whether or not to apply term limits to that unit of government.
The survey at countytermlimits.comwcountytermlimits.com was inspired by residents like you, particularly residents in communities just outside of Rockford. I encourage you to visit the site and share your thoughts. Then share the site with your friends and family via social media and email. Let’ s keep the discussion going.
Paul Gorski is a Cherry Valley Township Trustee and local advocate for open, transparent government. Contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.