According to the June 11 Island Moon, the Charter Review Ad Hoc Committee has recommended radical changes in how we elect city council members. Council member terms would be increased from the current 2 years to 4 years and allow 4 terms for a total of 16 years and then, if elected Mayor, serve 2 four-year terms as mayor for a total of 24 years.
Committee member, Bob White, in his letter to Moon Editor, Dale Rankin, on June 11 says that the Texas Constitution forbids city wide council seats if the term is 4 years. With our present city charter, we each vote for one district council member plus 3 at-large members plus the mayor which gives every voter a vote for the 5-council member majority of the 9-member city council. Without at-large seats, we lose that majority vote.
During my 34 years living in Corpus Christi, that 5-member majority vote has been critical several times when we voted most of the council out because the council was incompetent or unresponsive to the will of the people. We voters cannot afford to give up that power because all elective bodies after long tenure tend to become incompetent or unresponsive to the will of the people or worse, corrupt and must be removed. A vote for the charter revision takes that power away.
Four-year council and mayor terms with 16-year lifetime maximum for council members and 24 years for mayors will certainly create oligarchy power cartels that will rule the city as they wish. They would pass out the city’s $1 Billion annual expenditures to their largest campaign contributors. Can you imagine the damage that would have been done if our worst mayors and city council had remained in office that long?
In his letter, Bob White says that the 4-year term will double the campaign cost for each candidate. He is wrong. The cost will not double, the campaign contributions will double because the potential pay back return in special favors over 4 years will be double.
Our forefathers who wrote the US Constitution debated long and hard on term lengths for House and Senate members. They set 2 years for the House because they wanted it to be representative of the will of the people and they knew that required re-election every 2 years.
Moving the city elections from spring to the fall to coincide with the Presidential elections and state elections was a terrible move because it makes city elections partisan, political party events. We all know what that does in the US Congress where they rarely can agree on anything. God help us if we ever have another World War or economic depression. Party politics only serves to boost campaign contributions and the corruption that follows.
Author: Ralph Coker
Bio: Ralph Coker is a retired petroleum refinery plant manager. He writes on political, business, economic and military topics