An Oct. 19 ballot proposal to allow Caddo Parish Commissioners to serve five consecutive terms instead of three is being opposed by two prominent organizations.
The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Committee of the Caddo Republican Party are asking voters to reject the change in the parish charter that would allow commissioners to serve five consecutive four-year terms -- a total of 20 years. Those elected to the 12-person commission are now limited to three four-year terms, or 12 years.
"We do not believe that public service, as an elected official, is meant to be a lifetime career,'' the Chamber states in an announcement signed by Murray Viser, board chairman. "We appreciate those who give of themselves in public service and commend those who currently serve yet we believe the current term limits are sufficient."
Caddo Republicans argue that the current term limits adopted in the 1990s "are credited with bringing in new members that instilled a decorum and efficiency, which were previously lacking..." Harold Coates, chairman of the Republican Executive committee, made the announcement at a noon luncheon that featured two Caddo District Court judicial candidates.
Those years were marked by sometimes rancorous meetings, with votes often divided along hard partisan lines. One commissioner brought a charge against another when a coat was tossed over his head. Also, the former parish administrator, hired by the commission, faced charges ranging from forgery to malfeasance. Unlike those days, the commission by grace of the Haynesville Shale natural gas play, has socked away millions in mineral lease bonuses and royalties.
The chamber, as have individual members of the Republican Executive Committee, also is concerned that the proposition is misleading. The proposition says "commissioners shall be limited to five (5) consecutive elected terms," without noting the change from the current three consecutive terms.
"The proposed language is misleading to voters who are not aware that we already have existing term limits and the proposition, if passed, lengthens the amount of time that an elected commissioner might serve," the Chamber states.
Early voting for the Oct. 19 election begins Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Caddo Registrar's office in downtown Shreveport. The turnout, in a year with no presidential or statewide elections, has been projected to be in the single digits.
The Caddo Commission also is asking voters to approve a $23 million property tax to pay for construction projects that range from a jail roof to drainage improvements.
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