Kozakevich

There are no term limits for city councillors or provincial politicians in B.C., but there is one for library board trustees. Karla Kozakevich has had to step down as chair of the Okanagan Regional Library board after eight years.

An Okanagan politician has reached her term limit - as chair of the valley's library board.

Karla Kozakevich has had to step down because she's been overseeing the Okanagan Regional Library's operations since 2012.

Under the B.C. Library Act, trustee terms are limited to eight years. It's an unusual specified expiry date for a politician, since there are no term limits for city councillors, Members of Parliament, or Members of the Legislative Assembly.

"I didn't know there were term limits for library board trustees when I first joined the board," Kozakevich said Thursday. "But I soon found out, when I realized that board members with a lot of experience had to stop serving after eight years."

Term limits for politicians, though rare in Canada, appear to have public support.

A 2019 poll by the Angus-Reid Institute found more than half of all Canadians - 54 per cent - believe term limits for elected politicians are necessary. If term limits were imposed, a restriction of two four-year terms would be the most popular approach, the poll found.

In B.C., 48 per cent favoured the idea of term limits for politicians, 38 per cent said such limits were unnecessary, and 16 per cent were not sure.

Arguments in favour of term limits include limiting the power of politicians, ensuring new voices are heard, and countering the considerable advantages of incumbency at election times.

Prior to the 2011 municipal election in Kelowna, when six of nine incumbents were swept out of office, only two sitting councillors had lost their re-election bids in the previous 35 years.

Critics of term limits say there's something to be said for a politician's experience and familiarity with issues. They say only voters themselves should determine how long a politician serves, and they suggest it might be unconstitutional to prevent qualified people, even if they are incumbents, from seeking office.

For her part, Kozakevich comes down on the side of those who think there should not be specified term limits for politicians. She's been the representative for Naramata on the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board since 2011, having won re-election twice.

"How long a politician serves should be a voter decision," says Kozakevich, who had been appointed to the library board through her membership on the regional district.

"It should always be a choice of the citizens, based on who runs, who they think is doing a good job, or who will do a good job for their community," she said.

"If they want that person there for four years, or 20 years, it's up to people to speak up and get out and vote," Kozakevich said.