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Term Limits for Elected Officials

December 31, 1989

The recent scandals involving (Mayor) Tom Bradley and (Sen.) Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) after four terms in office graphically demonstrate that even reform-minded elected officials become complacent if they stay around too long. With gerrymandering and special-interest fund-raising by office holders virtually eliminating the ability of challengers to contest entrenched incumbents, term limits may be the only practical way to open up the process.

Your rejection (editorial, Dec. 18) of the Van de Kamp campaign reform initiative is even more baffling in light of your praise for the Cowan Commission's ethics and public financing provisions, since many of those same concepts are embodied in the Van de Kamp measure as well. Moreover, your editorial is labeled "The Two-Term Illusion," but Van de Kamp's proposal allows three terms for state legislators in both the Assembly and Senate, for a total of 18 consecutive years--isn't that enough?

The Times has always been a strong voice for political reform. I hope your misguided opposition to term limits does not diminish your support for the comprehensive solution to political corruption offered by the Van de Kamp initiative.

TOM EPSTEIN

Los Angeles

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