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Petition begins for KIB two-term limit
by Wes Hanna
Jul 05, 2011 | 75 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Kodiak Island Borough clerk’s office has certified a citizen’s initiative petition that will begin collecting signatures today to place a two-term limit on the borough mayor and members of the borough assembly, as well as on those elected to the Kodiak Island Borough School District board of education.

After serving two consecutive terms, these elected officials would need to wait six years before they could serve in any of these elected positions again. The typical terms for each elected position is three years.

The petition has 90 days to collect 347 signatures of registered voters in the borough for the initiative to go on a municipal ballot.

Should the petition be submitted and complete by July 22, the initiative language would appear on the ballot for the 2011 municipal election Oct. 4.

The petition’s primary sponsor is longtime Kodiak resident Lorna Arndt. She said she filed the petition initiative because of the longevity of some of the elected officials in these positions.

“We need new blood and new ideas because we’re not getting anywhere in this borough,” Arndt said. “We’re going backwards.”

Arndt said many areas in Alaska have similar term limits.

She said the effect of a two-term limit would be to encourage more people, and more minorities, to run for borough government seats by not being intimidated by an incumbent.

“Everyone I’ve talked to wants the same thing,” Arndt said. “Get new names in there and get new people.”

She said the borough government doesn’t listen to the public’s concerns and that some members have the idea that they own Kodiak.

“There’s too many old and stubborn people. You can’t talk to them at all,” Arndt said. “We don’t need the borough assembly fooling around. We need new people (who are) going to watch the dollars, not blow them.”

Informing the assembly on the progress of the initiative petition Thursday, borough clerk Nova Javier said the wording for the two-term limit includes any term that is partially filled through an appointment. If an individual was appointed to fill a vacant seat for any length of time, they could only run for one additional consecutive term.

The borough government and school board have been aware of the possibility of this initiative petition for some weeks because it has been sent back to the sponsors by the borough clerk’s office to rework the potential ballot language.

In a June school board work session, superintendent Stewart McDonald said a similar ballot proposition had been brought up and failed in the past.

“The reason for its failure before is that in a community our size it’s difficult to get anyone to run at all on these boards,” McDonald said. “So to have term limits, it may very well be, in no time flat, you end up with people getting elected through write-ins with 27 votes.”

The school board has two members, Norm Wooten and Jeff Stephen, who have served far longer than the proposed two consecutive term limit.

Term limits are also an issue in other areas around the state.

Just north of Kodiak, the Kenai Peninsula Borough government is reconsidering lengthening term limits the public has already voted in place.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will hear public testimony today and weigh an ordinance that would extend the term limits in that borough from two to three terms. If the ordinance passes, it would also go before Peninsula voters during municipal elections in October.

Mirror writer Wes Hanna can be reached via email at whanna@kodiakdailymirror.com.
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