News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Nov. &, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- The voters have spoken in Columbia County.
A special referendum on the ballot asked, "Should commissioners and commission chairpersons have set term limits?" and 86 percent of voters said "yes."
On Tuesday, Columbia County voters said "no" to career commissioners and "yes" to fresh perspectives every eight years.
Kevin Brown cast his vote in Columbia County on Tuesday.
"I voted, yes, there should be term limits. You've got to have fresh blood," Brown said.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross worked with state legislators to add the special referendum to the local ballot.
"I started a year or so ago asking the other commissioners how they felt about term limits and everyone was in agreement that they not only should be here, but at the state and at the federal level, too," Cross said.
The president and governor have term limits, but Cross says other state and federal lawmakers should, too, but he doubts it will really happen.
"That will never happen because they're secured in their positions and have enough payroll and expenses to make it a living," Cross said.
Eighty-six percent of Columbia County voters agree that commissioners should be limited to two four-year terms.
"It's like a potted plant or whatever you want to call it, it's like something sitting up on a mantle, you want to move it every once in a while to dust up under it," Brown said.
"We feel like you need to turn over the people in public office. The good ones hopefully will advance to other offices, and because of the experience, they have will be better servants to the public," Cross said. "I believe in the philosophy of it, that it should have happened a long time ago."
Although some local counties have already set term limits for commissioners, Columbia County says they're still one step in front of others.
"Our slogan should be that we don't follow, we like to be out front," Cross said.
Term limits will go into effect for commissioners in the next election cycle. Meaning, their eight-year countdown starts in two years. For a commissioner to then run for chairman, they would have to wait a year before running again.