From The Palm Beach Post
WEST PALM BEACH — The group pushing to extend mayoral term limits can now expect some organized push-back.
Businessmen Richard Shepherd and Jon Fogt formed a political action committee on Wednesday called Keep West Palm Term Limits. The group will raise money between now and November to educate voters on why they believe an eight-year limit for mayors must be preserved.
The formation comes a day after a majority of the city commissioners said they would be willing to place a question on the November ballot to let voters decide whether to give Mayor Lois Frankel and her successors a chance to try for a third term, even though the petition drive to extend term limits is failing.
“We passed a resolution in 1991 that put term limits on mayors for eight years, and there’s a really good reason for that,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd runs Polonious, a West Palm Beach investigative software company. Fogt runs Mexican Tile Specialists Inc., of West Palm Beach.
“At a local level, you end up with some very cozy relationships, often some quid pro quo dealings that escalate over time. When you have a powerful mayor or a strong mayor as we do, it’s especially important.”
Shepherd is a veteran proponent of term limits, running the 2002 petition drive that eventually established term limits for county commissioners.
“We were seeing increasing corruption in the county commission, and you know exactly what’s happened since then,” Shepherd said. “Three county commissioners are currently in jail. The two most vocal opponents of term limits were (Mary) McCarty and (Warren) Newell and they’re sitting in jail right now.”
Clarence Anthony, director of the rival PAC to extend term limits in West Palm, said he welcomes this new PAC and is looking forward to debate.
Anthony said the corruption argument shouldn’t be connected to the term limit debate.
“We can’t base our governance of our cities based upon people who misused the trust of the public and did wrong things,” Anthony said. “I don’t think term limits fix or correct that problem or ever will. … It’s not a term limit issue, it’s just an abuse of public trust issue.”
Shepherd said his “Keep West Palm Term Limits” PAC is only in the beginning stages but plans to recruit supporters and raise money for the effort.
“What the commissioners have to know is that this is political suicide for them,” Shepherd said. “Everywhere across the country, politicians have totally underestimated the impact of trying to repeal term limits. It is one of those issues that is very sensitive to voters.”
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