There are two items the Kauai County Council members have been discussing and are expected to consider in session soon. Both are unnecessary. We’ll address the idea of repealing term limits today. On Tuesday, we’ll look at the move to repeal the county’s dog barking ordinance.
Currently, councilmembers may serve no more than four consecutive, two-year terms before they are prohibited from seeking re-election. A councilmember who is term-limited out of office is eligible to run again in the following election and, if elected, can serve for another eight years.
The council may consider a solution to repeal term limits and put it before voters on the 2016 ballot. The people of Kauai already voted on this issue and approved term limits in 2006. There hasn’t been any public outcry to remove term limits. It hasn’t come up at all. The suggestion to remove term limits started with a councilmember. This isn’t about giving the people a chance to decide this issue. They did. It’s about seeing if the people want to change their minds.
As for the argument that term limits force effective councilmembers from office, Kauai has plenty of intelligent people who could serve the county well and if given the chance, would step forward. They would bring fresh perspective and ideas that could benefit Kauai and perhaps lead to the difficult, but necessary decisions to reduce the budget and ease the tax burden on residents.
And if and when a councilmember leaves office, they will likely have other opportunities to serve the county. When former Council Chair Jay Furfaro was voted out in the last election, he was hired by the county in April as the head of the county’s Office of Boards and Commission after Paula Morikami retired.
Term limits, too, are necessary to counter the county’s at-large election system instead of by district. An at-large election is an advantage for incumbents and a disadvantage for challengers. It’s a tribute to Arryl Kaneshiro and Kipukai Kuali‘i they won seats in the last election despite the at-large system.
It isn’t necessary to remove term limits.