Editorial: A.L. should have 4-year terms for mayor

Published 7:16 am Thursday, April 21, 2011

Let’s see.

The neighboring cities of Mason City, Clear Lake, Mankato, Rochester, Owatonna, Fairmont and Faribault all have four-year mayoral terms. As of last year, Austin does, too.

Meanwhile, Albert Lea remains stuck in the past with two-year terms. Our mayoral seat has been a revolving door.

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Fortunately, Mayor Vern Rasmussen and the Albert Lea Charter Commission are considering changing the term length to four years.

Any mayor in his or her first year is dealing with the previous mayor’s budget and in the second year the person already is campaigning for re-election. This does little to secure stability or to achieve goals. A mayor will build up regional and state connections, only to be voted out.

Some say two-year terms allow voters to kick out mayors they don’t like. Isn’t that sort of a lazy approach, though? Four-year terms will require voters to be more involved and inquisitive prior to voting — and that’s a good thing.

And perhaps more people will be willing to run for mayor because the position looks to be more stable. In other words, candidates would feel like, if elected, they would have a shot at getting some of their state campaign goals accomplished.

And more people running for elected office is better for community dialogue and for the voting public.