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New Bedford mayoral term limits would change if voters give approval

A mayor is elected for two years in New Bedford, but voters in November will get a chance to change that to four years. (WJAR)

A mayor is elected for two years in New Bedford, but voters in November will get a chance to change that to four years.

The argument in favor of extending the term is that it will allow the elected official to govern for a while without thinking about reelection.

“Two-year terms mean that politicians short-term are constantly campaigning,” UMass Dartmouth Professor Shannon Jenkins told NBC 10 News. “They close the books on one campaign and it’s already time to begin campaigning for the next election cycle. So, it doesn’t lend itself to long term focus on policy. You always have to worry about the short-term and how people are going to react.”

Nearly 3,000 voters in the city signed a petition to put the question on the ballot during the fall.

Disagreeing with the effort is former mayor Scott Lang. He said two-year terms for mayor were established about 100 years ago, also noting that a mayor should be responsive to citizens and that putting his or her tenure in the voters’ hands every two years is a good thing.

“A four-year term insulates and isolates the mayor. A four-year term has the potential of building a tremendous war chest, which means it’s unlikely you’re going to have dissent, or people come forward for an exchange of ideas,” Lang said. “Who is this for? Who is this convenient for? It’s for the person who becomes elected. It doesn’t serve the people. The people’s interests are that they have the ability to hold somebody accountable, on a regular basis.”

The people will have their say on the question during the election in November.

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