Politicians should finish terms

Published 2:15 am Saturday, August 31, 2013

It’s too bad that elected officials don’t have to follow Ferrin Cox rules.

He didn’t give us many, but there was one that was consistent and firm: Finish what you start.

As children, we were encouraged to try anything. Dance, piano, art, band, football, baseball, basketball … if it was offered anywhere in the vicinity, we could sign up on one condition. If we started, we couldn’t drop out until the year or the season was over.

Since I’ve had to live by those rules my whole life – and really, they aren’t that hard to live with – I am disappointed in Alabama’s elected officials who have resigned from office this year, midterm.

Congressman Jo Bonner has long been one of my favorite people. I knew him when he was a congressional staffer for then Congressman Sonny Callahan, supported him when he decided to run, and believe he did an admirable job.

Last year, it was evident that Washington was wearing on him, but I still held out hope he would seek the Senate one day. Earlier this year, he announced he was resigning from Congress to take a job with the University of Alabama system, a little more than a year shy of finishing his current term.

This summer, two members of the Alabama House of Representatives, Jay Love of Montgomery and Jim Barton of Mobile, also announced they were leaving early.

Love was chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Education committee who earlier this year appeared to be laying the groundwork for a statewide race. Instead, earlier this month, the Business Council of Alabama announced that Love and former state Superintendent of Education Joe Morton would lead an education reform foundation, the Business and Education Alliance.

Barton chaired the equally powerful Ways and Means General Fund committee. He resigned to join the Kinney Capitol Group, a Montgomery-based lobbying and consulting firm.

First off, each of these men asked voters to trust them as elected representatives for their current terms of two and four years. Each would have been up for reelection in 2014, anyway. And for all intents and purposes, Love’s and Barton’s terms would have been over when the 2014 legislative session ended.

If the governor could appoint replacements for their seats, their departures would bother me much less. Instead, Alabama taxpayers will foot the bills for special elections in each district. And each district will have a primary, a primary run-off if necessary, and a general election. With only one race on each ballot, turnout is bound to be abysmally low.

Daddy would have told them, “No, son. You made a commitment. You need to finish what you started.”