The Star-News


A familiar face resurfaces

Sun, Jul 17 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

Leave it to State Sen. Juan Vargas to screw everything up.

Had the former San Diego city councilman turned state assemblyman turned insurance industry executive turned state senator lost last year's senate election, Mary Salas would be in Sacramento occupying the state senate seat.

With Salas in the state capitol, the likelihood she'd be running for another term on the Chula Vista city council would be close to zero. That means I wouldn't be forced to deal with the inconvenience of reflection and critical thinking.

But Juan beat Mary and now I have to ponder. Reassess some beliefs.

On principle I'm opposed to termed out elected representatives coming back to office after a brief hiatus. Once they've had their time to do damage/good they ought to be thanked for their public service and shown a door that only opens one way.

The theory behind that approach is we need to keep things fresh. Recruit new faces and different ideas. There isn't anything inherently wrong with seniority or incumbency--- institutional memory has advantages.

But term limits exist for a reason, to keep the crop of new ideas flourishing while doing away with stranglehold of stagnant policy and consolidated power. With term limits voters have attempted to address those concerns.

And let's face it. There are some people who have been elected to office whom we can't wait to see leave. But we bear their time in office because, after all, that in part is what democracy means: we take the good with the bad. And even though we know it's more the power of incumbency that keeps a loser in office, we accept that most everyone has a right to finish out his or her term(s). But once your terms are done, well don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. Give the next guy a chance.

Salas did that. For a while.

She left the Chula Vista council in 2004 and watched from the Assembly as Councilman Steve Castaneda took his turn at guiding this city. Salas' time at the state level, as it was locally, was without major controversy and their were some successes.

For many it was a disappointment that she could not advance to the Senate instead of Vargas.
But even though her dedication to the public sector is laudable, and even though she is likable, Salas attempted return to the city council, is awkward and uncomfortable.

She had her time. She did her work. Shouldn't she just let new faces take a shot at leading this
city? It's an interesting question that's worth a ponder.


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