Macon County Board of Commissioners are taking a closer look at enacting term limits for county advisory boards, with the intent on negating the influence of politics in how appointments and reappointments are made. Chairman Brian McClellan and Commissioner Ronnie Haven brought the idea to the board’s attention at their regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 11.
“I just don’t think it is right for someone to be serving on a board, and be eligible for reappointment, and when the make-up of the board changes they get thrown aside because of politics,” said McClellan. “I think term-limits would go a long way in preventing something like that from happening.”
Commissioners did differentiate between some advisory boards, admitting how hard it can be to get people to serve on some boards. Also, some advisory boards have a greater influence on policy decisions in comparison to others, which is why commissioners directed County Manager Jack Horton to narrow the list down for the body to examine in the future.
Although most county advisory boards have no authority to pass ordinances, they do make recommendations for the Board of Commissioners to consider. The nature of such work is inherently political and sometimes controversial. Essentially, the initiative is aimed at limiting partisanship from certain county advisory boards.
“Personally, I’m all in favor of term limits, as long as you can get people who are open-minded, I don’t see a problem with it,” stated County Planning Board Chairman Lewis Penland. “You don’t have to be an engineer to serve on our board, although that certainly helps. But as long as someone is willing to learn and is able to keep an openmind, I think that can qualify them to serve on a board, but when it comes to politics, I still think it will always be political. It’s almost like a Catch 22.” The county planning board is one advisory body that Commissioners are considering for term limits.
Some commissioners are apprehensive about setting term limits for county advisory boards, arguing that their body can take someone off a board at any time if they have the political will to do so. Moreover, concerns about being able to fill certain advisory boards was a major concern.
“There is no escaping the politics of the situation. The question is, do you want to have the politics when you leave the board, or do you want the politics when we put them on the board,” concluded Kuppers.