Senator Cleo Fields won his case, arguing that the term limits that apply to everybody else just doesn’t apply to him. Well, technically he’s correct. He won his term prior to the term limits going into effect, however, he didn’t take office until when the seat was vacated with less than half the term in effect. However, Cleo did take the oath of office with over half the term remaining.
Regardless of what the courts decide, Cleo Fields actions are reminiscent of another high profile elected official, one with more clout than Cleo has.
I’m talking about then Speaker of the House of Representatives Tom Foley. In 1992, the voters of Washington approved a ballot initiative that would put term limits on the elected officials. The man would was just two heartbeats away from becoming the next President of the United States sued the state of Washington insisting that term limits were unconstitutional. He won his case and the judge ruled that Tom Foley could run for additional terms.
But in 1994 the voters let Speaker Foley know how they felt and Foley was the first Speaker of the House to lose his reelection bid since 1862.
What Cleo Fields is doing here may be technically correct, but if the voters of Cleo’s district really what change then what they ought to do is make sure they vote him out. It’s an opportunity for the voters of that district that they too want a better way of life. That they do want a new direction for the state. That their leaders ought to respect the voters and the spirit of the law, even when there is ambiguity in the law.
Cleo has given enough of his time, he’s acquired plenty of wealth while many voters in his district remained in woefully inept economic conditions. It’s time for somebody new. Cleo, if you respect the voters, cease seeking re-election.