- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2001

Ten of 13 members of the D.C. Council support legislation that would repeal Initiative 49, the 1994 voter referendum that limits the mayor, and members of the Council and school board to two consecutive four-year terms. The legislation, which is the brainchild of mayoral hopeful and Democrat Jack Evans, enjoys bipartisan support. Public opposition, however, has been overwhelming.
Term-limit opponents present two arguments. One is that term limits take away voters right to, well, vote. Another argument is that the initiative itself was improper. Neither holds water.
This debate has little to do with law and everything to do with political arrogance even voters who do not necessarily support term limits have warned the council to put the question before voters, at the very least, and their own political interests on hold for once. Donna Brazile, the quintessential Democratic Party strategist, deems the councils attempt to repeal term limits "outrageous." Another Democrat, D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty, says "theres an obvious conflict of interest here." Moreover, he says, "we lack the support of the residents." That two Republicans, Carol Schwartz and David Catania, wholeheartedly support reversing the will of the people is downright disappointing. Theres no doubt the majority of council members are thinking about their own political futures. A few squeaky wheels miscolor the debate with talk of term limits infringing on their voting rights.
Talk about being disillusioned. A full and clear 62 percent of D.C. voters approved of Initiative 49 in 1994. Moreover, the real debate regarding term limits has no gray areas. It is about Mr. Evans failure to win the mayors race in 1998, his decision not to run in 2002 and his inability to seek re-election to his Ward 2 seat in 2004. Add to that the fact that he and his colleagues are barred from re-election in either 2004 or 2006, and the picture becomes ever so clear. Still, term limits do not prohibit Mr. Evans from running for an at-large seat, which might prove to be very wise. Nor, for that matter, do term limits prohibit other ward members from running citywide. Frankly, those citywide seats should be enticing to all eight of the citys ward bosses.
Mr. Evans and other lifers need to pay closer attention to Kevin Chavous, a Democrat positioned to give Mr. Williams a run for anybodys campaign money in 2002. While they expend capital on something that disgruntled voters will certainly remember come election time, Mr. Chavous shakes his finger, too. However, he is casting aspersions on the mayor, not voters. After all, term limits are not about personalities, individual politicians or even racial politics but about competition.


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