DayeTime: Out with the old
During this past election, the phrase “term-limited” popped up more often than I can remember in any past election. From time to time, there is debate over whether an elected official should only be allowed to hold a particular office for two or three terms.
The main arguments boil down to this:
FOR -- (a) Give someone else a chance; (b) The official begins to think they own the office and are entitled to certain “perks;” (c) It leads to corruption.
AGAINST -- (a) Longevity in office means more influence and power, which benefits their constituents; (b) Why “fire” someone who is doing a good job just because he’s been doing a good job for so long?
Avoyelles Parish lost three long-time, powerful legislators on Oct. 12, due to term limits.
Now, Robert Johnson could have been defeated for re-election if he had been allowed to seek the District 28 House seat another time, but I doubt it.
Eric LeFleur might’ve been ousted in a re-election bid in Senate District 28, but I doubt it.
Johnson was the Democratic House leader this past year and LeFleur was the Senate Finance Committee chairman.
Neil Riser in Senate District 32 was the parish’s Republican voice in the Legislature, representing Ward 1 and the Big Bend area in the Senate.
Now we have three new Republicans. All three are business owners. The “good news” about losing three senior legislators is that we aren’t the only ones in that boat.
Because incumbents usually get re-elected, all those incumbents who were in office when term limits became a thing and kept getting re-elected over the past three terms are finishing their last term this year.
I don’t have a strong feeling on term limits, one way or the other. However, in general, I would rather the voters determine a politician’s term limit than a calendar.
For example, there are no term limits for Police Jury. There is a three-term limit for School Board, approved by voters in 2012. I suspect the result would have been different had 100 percent of voters voted.
Last year, voters decided four School Board members’ terms should be limited before the calendar said so.
This year, three first-term police jurors met the same fate. Two Police Jury members who were in office when Noah complained about his drainage problems were re-elected.
The “Trump Bump” in the state sent several Republicans into previously Democratic seats, including the two “District 28s” in Avoyelles.
Regardless of whether Gov. John Bel Edwards got all the votes he was going to get when the last ballot was cast Oct. 12 or if he can pick up 4 percent of votes from Ralph Abraham supporters and those who voted for one of the other candidates, the parish should be in good shape politically -- even with the loss of seniority -- because its legislators are in the majority party.
What will be interesting is whether there will be an attempt to undo term limits by the new incumbents over the next few years.