Idaho first to
repeal term limits
holders in county granted reprieve
isn't going to go away. We're going to be back here talking about
this—if we're here."
D-Ketchum and House
Democratic floor leader
Express Staff and
become the first state to repeal term limits, reversing a measure that had
been approved by voters in 1994.
would have barred more than a dozen city and county officials throughout
Blaine County from running for another term.
Republican-controlled Legislature took the term limits law off the books
Friday by overriding a veto by GOP Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. That cleared the
way for more than 150 county officials throughout the state and the
attorney general to run for re-election this year.
County government, Sheriff Walt Femling, Treasurer Vicki Dick and Coroner
Russ Mikel, who has held the office since 1983, would have been barred
from running again. So would have Commissioners Mary Ann Mix and Dennis
haven’t thought a lot about," Wright said. But other officials were
Howard Royal and Lita Sullivan, who recently resigned, would have been
barred from running again for the Blaine County School District Board of
Trustees. Combined, their terms in office totaled 30 years.
experience would harm the board, said school board clerk Cathy Zaccardi.
And, "it’s tough to try and find somebody to run," for the
nonpaying trustee job.
would have lost Councilman Kevin Laird after 2004 and Mayor Dave Wilson
after 2003. Ketchum Councilwoman Chris Potters would not have been allowed
to run again in 2005. Neither would have Hailey Councilwoman Martha Burke.
officials, however, would not have been affected, because they do not run
in districts, said city attorney Jim Phillips.
officials interpreted the law as applying to government appointees and
declined to reappoint P&Z commissioner Becky Keefer in January.
lawmakers warned that the override would backfire and term limits
supporters could put the issue back before voters this fall.
debate isn't going to go away," House Democratic floor leader Wendy
Jaquet, of Ketchum, said. "We're going to be back here talking about
this—if we're here."
measure was approved by 60 percent of the voters in 1994, the same year
the GOP took power in both houses of Congress for the first time in 40
years and its "Contract With America" promoted citizen
legislators over "career politicians."
Republican Party once supported term limits as a way to end the careers of
liberal Democratic members of Congress.
years ago, party officials began calling for a repeal, saying that local
officials were never supposed to be the target and that term limits were
depriving communities of experienced politicians, especially in sparsely
populated rural areas that struggle to fill local offices.
term limits also accused such out-of-state groups as U.S. Term Limits of
financing slick campaigns that misled Idaho voters eight years ago.
can someone who's from the Potomac know what's best for the city council
in Orofino, Idaho?" Democratic state Rep. Charles Cuddy asked.
of term limits said such an argument was an insult to voters.
really believe the people of this state don't know an incumbent has an
advantage at the ballot box?" said Rep. David Callister. "These
people are not fools."
Rumenap, executive director of Washington-based U.S. Term Limits, said
Idaho's lawmakers had invalidated the choice of their constituents.
term limits law restricted school board and county commissioners to six
years of service in any 11-year period and all other elected state, city
and county offices to eight years in any 15-year period. State legislators
would not have been affected until 2004.