Columnist: Let Illinois voters decide on term limits
Following an election year rife with accusations aimed at the “Madigan Machine” and other factions in Springfield, Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Brown said recently that the time for term limits may have arrived in Illinois.
“Illinois Democrats need to find a way to break up the political logjam with Gov. Bruce Rauner,” Brown said. “A gesture would help, if not necessarily … to Rauner, then at least a gesture to the voters who elected him. I suggest moving forward with term limits … (as) soon as possible.
Brown said the General Assembly should craft and approve a constitutional amendment to limit tenure of individuals serving in both the legislative and the executive branches of state government — including the governor, attorney general, secretary of state and others.
Then, the longtime columnist said, the matter could move to a voter referendum in 2018 — the earliest possible time frame for proposing changes to the state’s constitution.
Brown cautioned readers against taking his word too literally, however, disclosing that he himself is “not … a big believer in term limits.” “Illinois voters have indicated at every opportunity they support term limits, and I agree they should have the right to make that decision for themselves," Brown said. "For too long, those in power in Illinois have treated term limits as a bad idea for which the voters need to be protected from their own ill-informed urges. Legislative leaders won’t even allow term-limits amendments to be debated.”
Other states have demonstrated decent results. Brown himself considers the mechanism somewhat awkward, emphasizing that term limits are “definitely no substitute for an engaged, informed electorate exercising the optimal form of term limits — voting someone out of office.”
Brown said full implementation is still years away, and the change would not immediately impact longtime squatters such as House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago). Rather, Brown said he endorses a term-limits policy for the change that it could allow, as a conduit rather than an absolute end goal.