Randy Horiuchi has promised to serve no more than two terms on the Salt Lake County Commission, and now he wants to force others to do the same.
But the lone Republican on the commission - who is in the middle of his third term - said such a move would tell voters the government doesn't trust them to make decisions."Go back and read the Federalist Papers," Commissioner Mike Stewart said. "It wouldn't have washed with the founding fathers. If the public wants to return someone to office, it will. If not, the public will dump them."
Horiuchi's administrative assistant, Rep. Blaze Wharton, D-Salt Lake, will introduce a bill in the state Legislature calling for the limitation. He's not sure it has a chance of passing.
"I'm a Democrat," he said, referring to Republican domination in the Legislature. "We'll give it our best shot."
Horiuchi wants to limit the terms because he believes county commissioners have far too much power. In Utah, commissioners function as both the executive and legislative branches when deciding county matters.
"That virtually makes commissioners czars over their counties," he said, adding he believes county races receive little attention and commissioners tend to be re-elected without much effort.
Ironically, Horiuchi and fellow Democratic Commissioner Jim Bradley defeated incumbents last November, a fact that may argue against Horiuchi's theory.
But Horiuchi said he won because it happened to be an election that did not include a governor's or senator's race.
Stewart said Horiuchi is caught up in a fad. He questioned why the limitation bill doesn't include any other elected county office. "If you're really concerned about turning over elective office, you ought to do it to all of them," he said.
"It's getting harder and harder to get people to run. If you just put another hurdle in the way, you're saying to the public, `we don't trust you to make your own decision.' "
Wharton said he is philosophically opposed to limitations except in this case.
"This is not because of a fad. This is because of the nature of the office," he said. "You have a case where someone is setting policy and then implementing it. You have such an incredible amount of power in that job that either we've got to look at the institution for possible changes in the future or we have to limit terms."
The bill would not affect commissioners already in office. Stewart has yet to decide whether to run for a fourth four-year term.