Raúl Grijalva

Rigoberto H. Valencia

Question from Blanca Guerra, the Libertarian candidate for Congressional District 3. Guerra did not submit a response to the question posed to her. Mr. Grijalva, do you believe that there should be a limit to the number of terms a congressman should be allowed to serve? If your answer is yes, and if you do not believe in professional politicians, how many terms should be the limit?   

Grijalva responds:

Congressional term limits don't build a functional government. We have elections for a reason: any candidate who isn't doing a good job gets replaced. Creating a legislative body with frequent turnover and a lack of institutional knowledge on purpose isn't a good way to get the results voters really want.

The idea that without term limits all we have are "career politicians" sounds great from a certain point of view, but it subtly insults the idea of public service as a calling. I believe in people giving to their communities and using their talents for the public good. There's nothing wrong with people using a lifetime of committed public service to continue helping the people they learned from and grew up with.

Candidates who run as "outsiders" aren't always wrong to do so - it's good to get some new ideas on the table, and I'm the last person who believes in preserving the status quo for its own sake. But to run against an incumbent on principle, just because they have experience, isn't the right way to represent anyone except yourself. You need a strong rationale and a depth of knowledge and experience to be a member of Congress.

Since the Citizens United decision, we've seen people run with millions of dollars from anonymous, politically skewed organizations who want nothing more than to buy a seat without disclosing their funding sources. If we really want a strong democracy the way it was meant to be - human, person-to-person, low-dollar, and responsive to the public - we need local people who know their communities, not johnny-come-latelies who find a sugar daddy to pay most of their expenses.

I've always supported publicly financed elections as a means of letting issues and positions take center stage instead of attitude, financing and spin. "Term limits" always sound great when you're a challenger trying to get a foot in the door and hammer the other guy. When it's time to govern, you suddenly see the value of having some experience that helps the people you represent.

I don't believe people who support term limits have bad motives. I think having a responsive government is important too. But kicking everyone out at the same time just because they're there doesn't work. I think we'd all regret it in the long run if we kept pushing people out the door just when they're getting up to speed.

Raul Grijalva, the incumbent, is the Democratic candidate in District 3, which includes the south and west sides of Tucson plus much of Southwestern Arizona.