Term Limits Ballot Committee Honored with Sentinel Award
By Deborah Lambert
On Friday, May 18, the Montgomery County Civic Federation honored members of the Term Limits Ballot Committee for their outstanding achievement in getting term limits passed in 2016.
At the awards dinner, James Shalleck, president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, presented the Sentinel Award to Sharon Cohen, David Drake and Ann Hingston, organizers of the Term Limits Ballot Committee. David Drake did not attend because of a family commitment. Others on the Term Limits team who were present included Committee Chairman Walsh Richards; Nick Peang-Meth, Lori Jaffe and Paula Bienenfeld.
Sharon Cohen and Ann Hingston are active members of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee and David Drake is the past Republican co-chair of Legislative District 15. The ballot Committee Chairman, Walsh Richards is a Democrat. The ballot committee volunteers included Republicans, Democrats and Unaffiliated voters.
In accepting the award, Ann Hingston noted, "It was not deep pockets or huge dollars that drove passage of term limits for local county elected officials, it was voter frustration." The ballot committee raised and spent under $30,000, "not a large amount by campaign standards," according to Hingston. Sharon Cohen concurred that voters were frustrated with tone deaf local elected officials and she pointed to the huge real estate tax increase, the bag tax, the rain tax and the new real estate transfer tax as front and center to voter concerns. Further, Cohen stated the current, "Council spends well beyond our tax revenue base; resulting in huge borrowing and service on that debt which now eclipses other programs."
The Committee was formed to push the passage of the Term Limits Ballot Question. This was a particularly difficult task in a jurisdiction not traditionally considered favorable towards this change. The MCCF recognized the Committee for its extraordinary achievement of garnering a 68% percent vote for term limits.
The Sentinel Award, sponsored by the Montgomery Sentinel newspaper, is given to an individual or group, typically outside government, for a “significant contribution to good government at the local level.” This year, they honored the Term Limits Ballot Committee “for making a fundamental change in the County’s political landscape.”
Founded in 1925, the Montgomery County Civic Federation is self described as “a not-for-profit, county-wide umbrella group designed to promote cooperation, education, and effectiveness of civic and community associations in Montgomery County. With its strength in numbers and thoroughness of deliberations, the federation influences county policy and balances the activities of vested county pressure groups.”
While local politics is full of small victories and unsung heroes, now and then a major breakthrough demonstrates how the power of common sense can triumph over partisanship. A prime example of this phenomenon occurred when Montgomery County passed term limits in 2016, a major accomplishment that could have wide-ranging, positive ramifications in the future.