In The News › Villere for Mandeville mayor; ‘yes’ on Parish Council term limits: Editorial

Villere for Mandeville mayor; ‘yes’ on Parish Council term limits: Editorial

By The Editorial Board, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

February 24, 2016

The NOLA.com | Times-Picayune editorial board makes the following recommendations for the March 5 ballot.

ST. TAMMANY PARISH

MANDEVILLE MAYOR

Donald Villere

Mr. Villere, who was elected mayor in 2010, inherited a mess at City Hall. He replaced Eddie Price, who resigned the office in disgrace and went to federal prison. Mr. Villere has brought stability to city government and put policies in place to help prevent the abuses that occurred during the previous administration. He made ethics training a priority for city employees and, with input from a code of conduct committee, established ethical requirements for contractors.

He lists a new code enforcement process for blighted property, economic growth and street improvements among his accomplishments. His priorities include implementing a strategic plan for the city, maintaining fiscal accountability and transparency, maintaining police protection and improving traffic. In a second term, he also is committed to improving cultural offerings in the city.

Mr. Villere has extensive experience in government and community service. He was a member of the St. Tammany School Board from 1998 to 2006. He also served on the 4th Ward Recreation District board when Pelican Park was created. He merits another term.

PARISH COUNCIL TERM LIMITS PROPOSITION

To limit parish council members to three consecutive four-year terms

For

The St. Tammany Parish Council is one of the few government bodies in our metro area with no limits on how many terms members can serve. That is a throw back to the old police jury system, which fostered good old boy politics that held the parish back.

Now voters have a chance to shift direction.

The Bureau of Governmental Research laid out the case for change: “Proponents say the proposed term limits are necessary to bring in new council members with fresh ideas. They say term limits prevent incumbents from amassing enough power through patronage, favors and campaign contributions to remain in office indefinitely. Term limits also serve as an institutional check should an officeholder’s integrity and voters’ vigilance fail.” There are recent examples in St. Tammany Parish of that sort of abuse of power.

In addition, BGR points out that term limits might encourage public officials who are term-limited to make tough decisions they wouldn’t make if they were up for re-election.

This change would put the Parish Council on the same footing as the St. Tammany Parish president, who already is limited to three consecutive terms. It also would put the parish more in line with other governments in the metro area. The mayor of New Orleans, five parish presidents and almost all council members in our eight-parish region face term limits. The governor and legislators also are subject to limits.

This proposition isn’t perfect. Three terms is longer than many other governments allow. And the provision, if it passes, wouldn’t kick in until 2020 — so current council members could conceivably serve 16 years instead of a maximum of 12. Some advocates for term limits are unhappy about that.

But, as BGR argued, this change is a step in the right direction. St. Tammany’s old police jury system, which was only replaced 18 years ago, allowed officials to build fiefdoms and amass patronage. Term limiting the council would be one more sign that the old way of governing is gone.

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