- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2000

Leaders of opposing forces yesterday nonchalantly accepted the decision of Prince George's County, Md., voters to retain term limitations on their county executive and County Council members.
Only Judy Robinson, who led the campaign in 1992 to restrict those elected officials to two consecutive four-year terms, expressed much excitement.
"The people of Prince George's are really fine people. I'm proud I live in Prince George's County," said Mrs. Robinson, who was recuperating from angioplasty and unable to work in the final week before the election.
Council member M.H. Jim Estepp, among seven of the nine members who cannot seek re-election in 2002, certainly was not mourning. He already has an exploratory committee at work for his run for county executive.
"We've been encouraged" because the committee already has raised $200,000, Mr. Estepp said. He added that while he wanted term limits removed for council members, he favors an eight-year limit for the county executive.
In a matter-of-fact voice, Rushern L. Baker III, Democratic state delegate who led the repeal effort called the Committee to Restore Democracy, said: "I'm not happy with the outcome. There probably will be another opportunity to vote on the issue again."
Audrey E. Scott, the only Republican on the council, was disappointed that only about 60 percent voted to keep term limits. She has always been a proponent of term limits and credits them for her election in 1994.
"I'm here because of term limits," said the Bowie council member. "It's the only opportunity a minority party has to get elected.
"In two years, I do have several options, and I'm considering them all," Mrs. Scott said. "But, I do love public office."
Walter H. Maloney, council member from Beltsville, supported term limits, although he knew he would have to leave office in 2002.
"I think those of us who put the term limits in in 1992 are pleased," Mr. Maloney said. "We did it the hard way," he explained, by getting the required 10,000 signatures. "The voters spoke loudly."
Early in the 1990s, a grass-roots coalition collected 18,000 signatures, almost double the number needed, to put a term-limit proposal on the ballot. In 1992, voters approved the limits 51 percent to 49 percent. Tuesday, about 60 percent of the voters confirmed term limits.
Proponents of term limits criticized the nine-member council because the votes of six members put the repeal on the ballot. In 1992, it took 10,000 residents to put the issue on the ballot.
"We had only a couple months to campaign against the issue," said Mrs. Robinson, who formed the Keep Term Limits Coalition.
She criticized Montgomery County voters, who on Tuesday turned back an effort to impose term limits there.
"I think that shows a lack of good judgment on Montgomery County's part. Prince Georgians exercised their voting rights and won in a big way," Mrs. Robinson said.
Council member Thomas Hendershot, who can seek re-election in 2002, nevertheless was sorry that term limits were not rescinded. "I'm disappointed," he said, although "I'm not limited."
"I continue to believe term limits are undemocratic," Mr. Hendershot said. "It is regrettable" that political leaders did not make a case for electing the best of all candidates regardless of tenure, he said.
Mrs. Robinson said leaving office at the end of term limits is not necessarily the end of a public career. Such officials can "lay out" for four years and seek election again.
And it gives new candidates an opportunity. Mrs. Robinson pointed out that County Executive Wayne Curry won election in 1994 after term limits excluded Parris N. Glendening from running again; Mr. Glendening in turn ran for governor and won.
The current annual salary for a council member is $56,000; the county executive earns $101,800.
Affected Prince George's officials who did not return calls yesterday included Mr. Curry, council Chairman Dorothy F. Bailey, and council members Marvin F. Wilson, Ronald V. Russell, and Isaac Gourdine. Vice Chairman Peter A. Shapiro, who also did not return calls, is eligible to seek election to a second term in 2002.

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