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Here We Go Again: Council Chairman Seeks to Put 4-year Terms on Ballot

A Column by the Editor
web posted July 1, 2013

COLUMN Albert Einstein famously said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Edgefield County Council Chairman Dean Campbell evidently is oblivious to Einstein's wisdom and has placed an agenda item asking for a referendum on whether or not the county council members should be elected to 4 year staggered terms. Historically in Edgefield County the voters have said resoundingly and repeatedly "No".

The last time the question was put on the ballot was in the 2008 general elections. According to information provided at the time, it was the fourth or fifth time since 1976 the question has appeared on the ballot. And every time it is asked the voters resoundingly said no.

In 2008, during a Presidential election, 60% of the voters turned the measure back. If the county council approves the question for the next election in 2014, it will be an "off-year election" with fewer voters participating. Historically, Democrats do not turn out in full force in the off-year elections.

But, why ask the question when it has been asked and answered nearly half a dozen times?

Because going to staggered 4-year terms is a way to protect incumbents. It confuses the voters by only the most astute voters knowing that an election in their respective district is on the ballot. Just look at the number of votes cast each election cycle and then compare that to the number of votes cast in school board races. A much smaller percentage of votes are recorded in those races for the very reason stated.

If Chairman Campbell wants to spend our hard earned taxpayer dollars on a question, why not place one that many people have asked for, rather than one just a couple of politically connected individuals want.

I.e.: Should there be term limits for county council members?

Now, that's a question most people could get behind, and, if it is passed, there are automatically "staggered terms" due to the length that the present members of council have held office at the time of the elections.

Dist. 1, Norman Dorn; 22 years, Dist. 2 Rodney Ashcraft and Dist. 5 Genia Blackwell; 6 years each, Dist. 3 Dean Campbell; 4 years, and Dist. 4 Betty Butler; 2 years.

If the number of terms is set a 4 (pick any number in reality), and the measure passed, Norman Dorn would be gone in the following election. Ashcraft and Blackwell would be gone in 2016. Campbell would be gone in 2018 and Butler would remain for an additional two terms, granting that any of them are not defeated in a challenge in an election prior to their term limit. And now we "staggered terms".

However, that would not "protect" incumbents. So don't hold your breath that such a question will ever be placed on the ballot shy of a petition initiative.

Ask yourself, why would Dean Campbell seek to have this placed on the agenda to start with?

Albert Einstein: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". I guess some things are worth repeating.

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