In response, the Vote "NO" Davidson 4-Year Terms Facebook page has been launched to provide the public with information on why this change would not be the right thing to do for our town.
This is a follow-on effort to the "Let Davidson Vote" initiative last year which encouraged the previous Board to not make this change unilaterally. If it is to be done at all, it should be put it before the people for a vote. Now, it looks like we will get that chance.
To be clear, this proposed change is not a partisan issue. It's not a Progressive or Conservative issue. It is not about whether you agree or disagree with certain Town policies or projects. This issue is about keeping an accessible, responsive, and accountable local government. If this goes to a vote, we as citizens should welcome the opportunity, but at the same time we should vote not to support this change.
Making this change reduces the impact voters have on our local government. It reduces the importance of each election, and it takes away the opportunity for the people to vote on our leadership as a cohesive unit. These are just some of the reasons why this is not a good idea. Many more will be outlined in detail over the coming months.
Before that however, here is a look at why this change is even being proposed. Three main arguments were advanced when this came up last year. They are:
- ...that turnover on the Board is too high, leading to time and resources spent bringing new board members up to speed.
- ...that 4-year terms would improve Board effectiveness on long-term projects.
- ...that other towns in the State have made this change.
In reality, Davidson's history does not support any of these positions.
When it comes to the rate of turnover on the Board, this is simply not an issue. More specifically, turnover caused by elections hardly even exists. Since 1995, 11 Board spots have turned over. Only one of those spots was an incumbent who lost a reelection attempt. The rest were incumbents who chose on their own not to run for another term. 4-year terms will not lessen this type of turnover. In fact, longer terms might increase turnover because the decision to run for a second 4-year term will be more weighty on those who serve. More of them may simply not want to do it.
As for the supposed impact on long-term projects, Davidson's very recent history shows that long-term projects are not hindered by the current shorter terms. The Oak Hill Apartments redevelopment, the attraction of the MSC headquarters, and the recently announced sale of Davidson Commons all show that Town planning and economic development efforts are successful under the current system. Add to that the awards Davidson regularly receives and it is hard to see how anything the Town does being hindered by 2-year terms.
Finally, to the point that "other towns are doing it" one has to say "so what"? This town prides itself on being different. We should strive to remain that way. Other towns may benefit from longer terms because they have little voter interest in their town affairs. Fortunately, Davidson does not have that problem. Not yet anyway. We as citizens need to do what we can to prevent that from happening.
Please take a moment to "like" Vote 'NO' Davidson 4-Year Terms. Also, help spread the word by forwarding this to anyone who may be interested. Finally, you can contact the Town Board at firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know your opinion on this change.
If you are interested in helping further...
Follow on Twitter: @VotNoDav4YrTerms