Howard council rejects term-limiting plan


A proposal to put on the ballot a charter amendment aimed at limiting Howard County Council members to three terms was defeated 3-2 last night by the council.

Four votes were required to put the measure, which was introduced by freshman Councilman Darrel E. Drown, R-2nd, before voters in November 1992. The council voted along party lines, with the three Democrats opposing the resolution and the two Republicans, Mr. Drown and Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, supporting it.

Mr. Drown said he'd launch a petition drive to seek the 10,000 signatures of registered county voters needed to bring the issue to referendum in the 1992 general election.

"Over the years, we have seen public service become a full-time career for a number of officeholders, a trend which severelylimits opportunities in government service for newcomers with fresh perspectives and new ideas and discourages citizens from challenging long-term, entrenched politicians," Mr. Drown said.

Opponents of the resolution, including Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, said it would prevent citizens from choosing their officials. "It's not a good government resolution because it takes power away from the people," she said.

Former Councilwoman Angela Beltram said the proposal "limits the power and participation of the voters to re-elect the people they want."

She said that during the 22 years of charter government, Ruth Keeton was the only council member elected to more than three terms. "It also creates council members who are lame ducks in their third term and would not be accountable to the people," said Mrs. Beltram, who was defeated in November.

"The argument that the current system breeds professional politicians is not true, because these are part-time jobs filled by people from all walks of life."

Mr. Drown also introduced a resolution calling on the state delegation to the U.S. Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to limit senators to two terms and members of the House of Representatives to six terms, so that members of Congress could not serve more than 12 years in either house. It was defeated by a 3-2 vote along party lines.

Janet M. Sloan, of Ellicott City, who supported Mr. Drown's proposal, said "term limits are needed to disrupt the seniority network, which creates an imbalance of power within the legislative branch of government." She said Congress is "paralyzed by the self-perpetuated oligarchy that has emerged in Washington."

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