Would bill mean voting himself out of a job?

January 7, 2013 

John Pezold hasn’t cast his first vote in the Georgia House of Representatives, but he has signed on to his first piece of legislation.

And it is a real head-turner.

Two weeks before the start of the session, freshman Rep. Michael Caldwell of Woodstock filed a resolution that calls for a constitutional change that would impose term limits on those who serve in the General Assembly.

That's right, term limits.

The bill would limit representatives and senators to four consecutive two-year terms. In short, you can go eight years, but then you have to take a time out to continue.

Motivation

Pezold, a north Columbus Republican, has signed on to Caldwell's legislation, which faces an uphill battle because it would have to be approved by the very people it seeks to restrict.

Pezold said one of the reasons he signed on with Caldwell is that the people he represents in Muscogee, Harris and Troup counties want the discussion on term limits to start. Those in the conservative district are concerned about a number of things, he said.

"From my conversations with the people I represent," Pezold said, "they are concerned about open and honest communication from me, making headway on ethics reform, initiating a conversation on term limits, and getting government out of the way of job creators."

And Pezold, who owns McDonald's restaurants in Columbus and LaGrange, has been in a listening mode since unseating Rep. Kip Smith in the July Republican primary.

Improve the process

Pezold's contention that is a term limit would make lawmakers better.

"In my opinion, too often elected officials are constantly in 'campaign mode,'" he said. "Part of this is due to the fact that terms only last for two years. … I believe that if elected officials are not in campaign mode, they'll be more focused on making decisions which, while perhaps politically unpopular, will be better suited for moving Georgia forward."

He turns in an interesting direction to make his point.

"It's important to remember that the governor is term limited," Pezold said.

That's right. The governor is limited to two four-year terms.

"This is not a question of whether or not term limits are right for our state," Pezold said. "I believe they are, as evidenced by the governor's term limits. This proposed constitutional amendment simply applies those limits to the legislature as well."

By signing on to the term limits resolution, Pezold has signalled he is going to be a different kind of legislator.

Only time will tell what that means, but it is clear he is willing to talk openly about issues that many lawmakers would rather not discuss.

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com.of

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