In this year’s Greensboro municipal election, alongside the choices for the five districts, three at-large seats and mayor, will be a single ballot initiative: a choice to extend city council terms go from two to four years.
The initiative’s history goes back to Wade’s Gambit, the plan by state Sen. Trudy Wade to radically — or, more technically, reactionarily — overhaul the way the city’s government is elected and how it operates. It was a mad plan by small people that wended through a set of House and Senate bills before being defeated in June, and still lurks in the language of legislation that is not quite dead yet.
We vehemently opposed the movement and the process by which it came about, but we are on board with this one provision. Because while we’re sure the initial impetus for this aspect of the bill came about with some nefarious purpose in mind, it actually makes sense for a city that needs to make some big strides to give its leadership a little more time to get the job done.
Ironically, the soil of progress is fertilized with stability — long-term projects are less likely to go through without some predictability. And doubling council terms serves that end.
It also enhances each council member’s ability to perform on the job. It takes at least a year to learn the gig, and as it stands councilmembers need to start running for re-election just as they’re finding their feet.
This has become particularly evident the last four terms, during which power vacillated wildly between two poles. Longer tenures also give more incentive for councilmembers to build bridges and work together towards common cause — sooner or later they realize that they’re going to be stuck with each other for four years so they might as well get something done.
These are the factors that contribute to greater development and progress.
The soil of progress is fertilized with stability.
Joe Riley has been mayor of Charleston, SC since 1975 — he’s currently in his 10th four-year term — and in those years has completely modernized that beautiful and historic city. Even more relevant, Allen Joines became mayor of Winston-Salem in 2001 and in his four four-year terms the business and culture of the city has been reinvigorated. He’s already announced his intent to run for re-election next year.