Term limits for Wilsonville City Councilors: What's really going on
In this time of great concern and distraction over the coronavirus, a strange and seemingly harmless initiative has worked its way onto the May ballot. In about a month, voters will be asked if they want to place term limits on the Wilsonville City Councilors, including the mayor.
Don't be fooled by this term limits ballot initiative. It's not about better government. It's a disgraceful (No, despicable!) attempt by a few commercial interests to remove public officials who are against a proposed Aurora Airport runway extension.
But let's put that aside for a moment and focus on term limits.
Are the incumbents hanging around too long? Don't think so. Since Wilsonville was incorporated over 50 years ago there have been 54 elected City Councilors, most of whom served much less than 12 years. We've had eight mayors, most serving an average of six years. Only two mayors served 10 years or longer. Look it up.
Are the voters dissatisfied with our elected officials? Don't think so. I've lived in a lot of places. When my wife and I decided to move to Oregon a few years ago to be near our grandkids, Wilsonville was the place we chose. Nice neighborhoods, great library, convenient transportation, well-maintained streets, well-managed public utilities, low crime: all in all, a good place to live.
And by the way, a recognized and respected citizen satisfaction survey conducted every two years has consistently placed Wilsonville in the top 10 out of 500 similarly sized cities across the U.S.
Seems to me that the city is well-governed and those in charge are doing good things. If you don't think so, that's what elections are for.
So, what else could it be? Will terms limits improve city governance? Nope. Actually, it will make things worse. Think about it. The work of Wilsonville's mayor and councilors doesn't stop at the City Council chambers. They represent the city and the interests of its citizens on all sorts of local, regional and state-wide committees and councils. That's how we get a voice, gain influence and locate funding on a wide variety of matters such as transportation, land use, urban/rural issues, coordination with other cities etc. Our mayor's and councilors' effectiveness in representing our interests is a function of their knowledge and experience. Getting up to speed on things that matter to us takes time, time to build knowledge, relationships, trust and respect among other leaders. Why self-impose a limit on our ability to influence things that matter us? Why disenfranchise voters who want to retain the incumbent Wilsonville city councilors?
Okay, so why term limits? Turns out this initiative has nothing to do with better government. And, what it's really about is pretty despicable! A land speculator and a developer want to expand the airport runway, opening it up to larger aircraft. This will open the way for commercial development, bringing with it more traffic, more aircraft noise, more pollution, less safety and a few guys making lots of money. Won't that be fun! Knowing that the mayor and councilors who oppose the runway extension are way too popular with the voters, these guys launched this term limit initiative. They can't get what they want through elections, i.e., through our normal democratic process. So why not try a deceitful approach? Let's limit their terms in office! This bunch doesn't care a whit about the city, safety or welfare of its citizens. All they care about is making money at our expense.
Please vote no on this term limits initiative. Don't let a greedy few mess with our city.
Bill Wallace is a Wilsonville resident.