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Council Seeks Four Year Terms on Ballot

By: Regenia Blackwell

web posted October 24, 2018
OPINION - Guest Column posted yesterday, 10/22,  written by Chairman Dean Campbell states that the County Council is giving voters the opportunity to change the terms of County Council seats from 2-year terms to 4-year staggered terms.

The county has given the citizens this same opportunity over and over again with the same results.  The citizens have previously and profoundly voted NO to this on the ballot.  Now the citizens of Edgefield County will have to once again speak on this matter.

The statement is made that Edgefield is one of two counties who still have 2-year terms for council members. I say KUDOS to the citizens of Edgefield County for staying with two years. While it is a personal inconvenience for the five council members to file pages of paperwork, electronically, who also have to pay a filing fee every two years, it's certainly worth it for the citizens to have an option if they are not being properly represented.  After all, isn't that why they were elected, to let the citizens have a voice.

Chairman Campbell stated: Having 2-year terms means that you’re asking elected officials to always look to the next election. I believe the temptation is there to make bad decisions because the next election is “right around the corner.”   Rather than being a focus for campaigning, their service to the people should be to make the best decisions for the people and keep them informed and give them an opportunity to let you know if they disagree.  You shouldn't have to be concerned with the next election if you are upholding this duty.

Chairman Campbell suggested the possibility of a  complete turnover of senior staff.  
"If that happens, citizens are at a greater risk for bad decisions and, as a result, higher taxes and other problems, because nobody will know how County Government operates and maintains no institutional memory.  The senior staff are the ones who keep things functioning, the know all, do all staff.  It doesn't make sense that there would be a turnover with senior staff. It's also been said that there is a chance that the whole council could be replaced at one time and the longevity of experience would be shortened.  I ask you this my fellow voter, how confident are you in your vote?  Isn't this a play on our intelligence and ability to pick somebody who might do a good job?

Chairman Campbell stated:  "Finally, you may ask yourself: If 2-year terms are good enough for the U.S. House of Representatives and S.C. House of Representatives, shouldn’t they be good enough for County Council? The U.S. and S.C. House terms are set under the federal and state constitutions. That was the way the founding fathers ensured that the federal and state elected officials would go back home to connect with the people, instead of staying in Washington, DC, or Columbia." 

This makes me think of those in federal positions that have six-year terms who you would like to see gone.  Wouldn't it be more convenient to be able to vote them out sooner?  In addition, we vote every two years anyway so why does this really need to be changed?

In Chairman Campbell's closing statement, he states "I contend that the County Council is closer to the people than those who serve in the U.S. House and S.C. House.  Every day, County Council members live in the districts from which we are elected.  We are here all the time, and you can find us easily.  You see us in the Post Office, in the grocery store, in church and at the gas station every day.  How much closer to the people can we be?".  My thoughts are while that may be true to small patches around the county that is certainly not true for the vast majority and therein lies the question, If you are so close to your community why do they have to find you?  Shouldn't it be your responsibility to keep them informed, seek their desires, have an occasional newsletter or an occasional district meeting?  

Before you vote, ask yourself how many times have you seen your council representative in the last 2 years other than to campaign?  Has your member kept you informed on issues, sought your thoughts?  If your representative does not bother to involve you in the process in two years, what makes you think they will do so in 4 years?

My vote will be a NO for 4-year terms simply because why change something that has served citizens well over time. At the end of the day, it offers no true benefit for the citizens, but does benefit and is a convenience to each council member. 

In closing, I would like to express with sincere gratitude the amount of work that our County Council puts in for Edgefield County.  We are fortunate to currently have a good council, but this could change over time and I would like to be able to continue to cast my vote every 2 years. 

Related article:  the opinion of former Owner and Editor, Roy Blackwell, that was written July 1, 2013.  This opinion still stands today.  Here We Go Again: Council Chairman Seeks to Put Four Year Terms on Ballot.

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