Illinois Needs Terms Limits, Either By Rule Or By Voice

Increasingly, concerned Illinoisans are recognizing the need for a form of term limits.  We’ve seen that career politicians suffer from tunnel vision and provide stale leadership that loses focus on the constituency, eroding both the quality of our state, its government, and overall public trust.  Term limits would work to solve those problems by limiting service in a position for a set amount of time.

If elected, my legislative initiative would propose consecutive term limits. This proposal would be better than a strict cap because it would still promote circulation of representatives, new ideas, and political conversation in Springfield’s echo chamber. However, only limiting terms on a consecutive basis would protect our right to representation by competent and willing legislators, the right to vote for the candidate of our choice, and the liberty to seek election to public office.

The other, more prevalent option among other states, is to set term limits on leadership positions elected officials may hold once in office.  So-called leadership term limitswould affect the duration a state senator’s or state representative’s leadership role as the president of the senate or speaker of the house, respectively, rather than his/her general role as a senator or representative. I believe a similar restriction in Springfield would be  beneficial. However, based on the current constitutional and legal structure of our government, such a law would be difficult to enact.  Illinois could achieve leadership term limits through a constitutional amendment. While possible other ways,  the limitations would either come through an amendment to the General Assembly Operations Act or to the pertinent rules of each chamber. Those rules are newly adopted at the commencement of each legislative session. You can see the problem.

Ultimately, the way to enact any of this type of reform is for us, the people of Illinois, to vote for new representation across the state.  Without electing new people, any type of real change would be very unlikely.

 As noted by Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, we live in a nation with a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” I take these words not only to mean that it is a civic duty to vote, but also that it is a civic duty for people to seek positions of civil service and participate in the arena with others who might be considered “powerhouses” and “machine politicians.” To be sure, this is a challenge. As is clear, the rules are such that the politically powerful remain in charge. This is true not only from an individual perspective, but also institutionally — special interests and influential groups push individuals in positions of power who will protect the status quo, whether or not it’s best for the represented community.

While a top down approach such as consecutive or leadership term limits would address this imbalance, I believe it is also important for Illinoisans to realize the power we have. We can change the power structure by voting for representatives who are not beholden to anyone, who do not have a personal agenda, and who are willing to be bold and present new forward thinking ideas to make new laws that lead ALL of Illinois to a better tomorrow!

The grassroots nature of my campaign is important to me. I want to show that while the powerful hold obvious influence over our politics, we don’t have to sit back and accept it. I want the people of the 8th District and Illinois to know one does not need to be a millionaire to run for office, one does not need to be an incumbent to retain office, and one certainly does not need to be anointed or blessed by anyone else to have the privilege of serving in representative government. Let’s look past the politics and puffery, and to the policy and what real effect it’ll have on the actual community. Let’s take ownership of our government.

A final note on money and fundraising in this race: Of course, I would greatly accept a donation, but I also request people consider giving a portion of a political donation to other charitable causes such as Misericordia and Thresholds, who you can find  at and, respectively.

Please vote for me, David A. Zulkey, in the March 20, 2018 Democratic Primary Election for the 8th District’s Seat in our Illinois State Senate. And please pass along word of my efforts to your families and friends.  Thank you.


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