Washington County's proposal to study the efficiency of county government is a charade. The current form of government is not broken, rather, it is distorted by long-term incumbents who are addicted to power and their primary goal is always reelection. The proper question to be placed on the ballot is: Should all elected county offices be limited to two four-year terms? However, this is not a question that politicians want voters to answer.

It is noted two commissioners that voted in favor of this study have been in office collectively for over 30 years. During their tenure both have run for different offices and hold the record for the largest tax increase in county history. Their dismal record is without debate. After decades in office these commissioners would have taxpayers believe that they now wish to bring efficiency to county government.

In 1992 I was elected to the Washington County Board of Commissioners. I joined two long-term incumbent commissioners who previously held row offices. Within six months in office I submitted a 15-point plan to my then-colleagues on increasing the efficiency of the county's operation, improving services, and reducing costs. That proposal was immediately dismissed. Just having property insurance bid along with many other rudimentary functions turned into a constant battle with these entrenched incumbents from 1992 through 1996.

To achieve results of improving county efficiency only two commissioners need to agree as it was then and is now, yet they refuse to act. No study would be required, committee formed, or efforts to place this measure on a ballot.

One of the points within the 1992 proposal was to privatize the health center, which at the time was costing county taxpayers approximately $1 million a year.

Twenty-eight years later the health center was finally sold after being held up by long-term incumbents.

In 1998, with two years remaining on my second term, I stepped down. I note the two commissioners that joined me in 1996 still hold public office to this day.

Term limits are not only necessary, they are essential to maintain control of an effective government. Without term limits for all elected and judicial positions incumbents become impediments to elected office.

Joe Ford

Stuart, Fla.