Jackson County voters may get to decide in August if they want to limit terms for members of the county legislature and for the county executive.
It’s a welcome development, one county residents should encourage.
Legislator Greg Grounds said this week he’s working on a measure that would put term limits on the August ballot. While details remain sketchy, the proposal likely would limit legislators to two four-year terms.
Grounds says he’s backing up the concept with action — he won’t seek a fourth term in the legislature.
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“I believe in term limits,” he wrote in an email. “It would be hypocritical to suggest them while running again.”
Grounds says he’s talking with other legislators about term limits, looking for language a majority will support.
This is absolutely the correct approach. After a year marked by arguments and dysfunction at the courthouse, Jackson County voters should be allowed to decide if limiting legislators’ terms will improve the county’s government.
The deadline for certifying a question for the August ballot is in May.
We think a term limit should be imposed on the county executive, too. But some legislators may want to go further by asking voters to eliminate the job altogether.
That idea deserves serious consideration. There’s no inherent reason Jackson County needs to elect someone to oversee the bureaucracy. An appointed county manager might do a better job while reducing friction at the courthouse.
The Kansas City Council approves a city manager, a system that has worked relatively well.
No government system performs flawlessly. Johnson County commissioners removed the county manager last year, to the chagrin of many residents. Politics is never far from politicians.
But Jackson County faces a host of difficult problems in the months ahead, including an aging jail. Anything that could reduce tension between the executive and legislative functions could be helpful.
Term limits in Jackson County are not a new idea. The Missouri legislature considered a term limit bill for the county in 2005. It went nowhere.
A charter review commission considered term limits in 2012, but voted narrowly to reject them. There is always resistance to term limits from longtime officeholders, who claim experience is more important than fresh ideas and new approaches.
The last year in Jackson County shows that isn’t always the case. Entrenched politicians have stumbled over issue after issue.
It’s time for voters to consider term limits in Jackson County. Grounds should be applauded for his work on the issue, and other legislators should join him in the effort.