MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland went public a few weeks ago about considering a third term, it gave a little fuel to the idea of officially extending term limits. It’s still a longshot in my view that Memphis voters will approve extending the current two-year terms for the mayor and city council to three. After all, voters have spoken on this issue twice, and I am not convinced that even Strickland’s subtle overtures about seeking a third term will change voter sentiments.
Now, the mayor has also weighed in more forcefully on another council proposal to hold partisan city elections. And this time, Strickland is on target.
He thinks partisan elections are a terrible idea – and he’s right. The last thing we need are divisive city campaigns pitting Democrats and Republicans against each other – and various communities against each other based on political party and – let’s face it – race. We already have enough political division in county, state and federal governments to last a lifetime. Strickland is also correct in saying partisan elections would put the power in the hands of a few party leaders rather than the voters.
City government is far from perfect, but the process of electing our leaders has worked well for more than 100 years. So here’s hoping that when the council meets next week, it will scuttle the idea of holding partisan elections once and for all.