By Aftab Siddiqui
The voters in the City of Arlington voted by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent to impose term limits on the City Council. Grass roots efforts by activists to get the required number of signatures for the November Election Ballot was tough and arduous. It required hard work, walking neighborhoods, phone calls, sitting out in 100 degree temperature, discussion groups and took months of efforts. Their hard work did not go in vain as the residents agreed with their proposition.
The Ballot initiative restricts the City Council Members including the Mayor to a total of three two-year Terms and is retroactive. This means that the current City Council Members who have already been there for three terms will no longer be eligible for a future run.
The City Council ran an aggressive campaign against the proposal working with the ‘We Love Arlington PAC’. This PAC spent $436,207.68 fighting term limits. Over half of the money the PAC spent came from large donors – Viridian Holdings LP – $100,000, Rangers Baseball LLC – $75,000, Moritz Partners LP – $50,000, MEI Inc. dba Automax – $10,000, Texas Association of Realtors – $49,691.78 (this was an in kind contribution). The activists fighting for term limits spent $10,743.14.
PROS if new Council Members are independent not endorsed by the current Council and Mayor
City Council will be open to fresh ideas
Minorities – now at approximately 60 percent of total population – if elected, will have more say in the decision making. That means they will have more influence in how their tax money is spent.
Focus and Priorities will change from special interest to public interest
Safety, clean air & water will become a priority at the Council
Special interests will play a lesser role in the decisions about the future of the City
Transparency and Accountability will become the hallmark of the new Council
Emergence of new leadership will increase the bench of leadership who will go beyond City
Council and make decisions at the county and state level that will be good for the City.
Citizens will no long feel it is neighborhoods versus tourist
Council will lose expertise of members who have an understanding of the system and it may take a few months for new Council members to acquire expertise.
The arguments of the current City Council and Mayor may have some validity, but Arlington has changed dramatically over the last two decades and needs new leadership that the ageing Council Members cannot provide. Currently, most votes on important issues are unanimous which means there is less discussion and arguments on the pros and cons of the issue on the table. This also reflects the mindset of the current Council who all practically comes from same socioeconomic background and cannot fathom the emerging issues of the citizens of Arlington.
Submitted by Aftab Siddiqui