In my free Common Sense e-letter, I applaud those who limit their terms in office voluntarily and keep their word. Most who have made such pledges have kept them, but too many have not. Leaders like South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake and former Oklahoma Congressman Tom Coburn have shown what committed and true representatives of the people can do in a limited time frame.
But as a strategy to term-limit Congress, self-imposed limits fail because voters ? in all but a dozen or so congressional districts ? do not have the effective choice at the polls with which to enforce voluntary limits by dumping incumbent violators.
Yet, at least this time, in solidly Republican Seminole County, Florida, Republican voters will have a clear choice. That's because Valdes, after not being challenged even once since his first election 16 years ago, now faces a formidable challenger, a challenger who stands in very stark contrast to Ray Valdes.
The Real Thing
Grant Maloy is a Seminole County commissioner. Eight years ago he ran on a pledge to serve no more than two terms, or eight years. Maloy signed the "Contract with the County," a platform that called for term limits and giving voters referendum power over any new tax, tax increase, public borrowing or pay raise for commissioners.
Maloy is keeping his word and stepping down from office ? the first commissioner to step down voluntarily in twelve years. He's pleased to see the competition to fill his office, telling me that
When there is an open seat you see many more people running for the office. An example is the seat that I am leaving. Five Republicans are running for commissioner. I can't recall when that many have run for a commission seat. In Seminole County, about half of the incumbents are reelected without any opposition.
Grant Maloy decided to challenge Valdes to change the ethical standards of the tax collection office. Valdes has been criticized because he and his family have purchased land being auctioned for back taxes at well below market value. Valdes's relatives have also purchased certificates that earn interest on delinquent taxes.
If elected, Maloy pledges a new policy for the tax collection office, barring the tax collector and all employees from purchasing certificates or deeds.
I'm not a Seminole County citizen and may not grasp all the various issues from my distant perch. But the difference in character between these two aspirants for public office is so clear and bright as to be visible from a very great distance.