It's not unusual for a political candidate to offer a self-imposed term limit. They want to be a citizen legislator, they'll say, not a career politician.
And besides, if they can't get the job done in, say, six years, it would be time for them to go anyway.
On the flip side, longtime politicians seeking re-election will often say their longevity itself is a plus. Seniority equals clout, and the more they have the more they can accomplish for the folks back home.
Two incumbent state representatives from central York County on the ballot next week have a combined 24 years of experience in the House. So it's natural for us to ask what they've been doing in all that time.
Republican state Rep. Ron Miller is seeking his eighth term representing the 93rd House District. He was first elected in 1998 and is now the majority chairman of the House Labor and Industry committee, a member of the House Liquor Control committee and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
So what has he accomplished in nearly 14 years in office? If you're hard-pressed to answer that, you're not alone.
The fact is, though, Miller is getting things done in Harrisburg, more so lately since he's setting the agenda of the House Labor and Industry committee.
In the current session he helped reform the Unemployment Compensation System to ensure the benefits are getting to those who truly deserve them, and he helped shepherd the Keystone Works Program, which allows those out of work to continue collecting benefits while they work on a trial basis for a potential employer.
Those are just some examples.
We think Miller deserves our votes, but we'd like to see him take the lead in the next session to accomplish some of the big-ticket items -- such as reforming the school funding formula, dealing with property tax reform and funding repairs to the state's transportation infrastructure.
He's well aware of the importance of these issues to his constituents, and when asked why nothing has been done he'll point out how difficult those tasks are -- particularly school funding and property tax reform.
Understood. But no one said the job would be easy. Miller has our voice in Harrisburg, and we expect him to use it -- loudly and often.
State Rep. Keith Gillespie is the other longtime politician on the ballot, seeking his sixth term as the Republican representative from the 47th House District. As in Miller's case, we can't say Gillespie has been out in front on the important issues over the years.
But unlike Miller, Gillespie is facing a strong challenger in this race.
Democrat Sarah Speed is a solid alternative -- an enthusiastic, fresh face familiar with the workings of the Capitol. At 28, she's a lawyer and the Pennsylvania director of the Humane Society of the United States. She's lobbied legislators and knows the ins and outs of seeing a bill become law.
We don't necessarily support all of her positions, but we agree with her when she says the Legislature has wasted its time on nonsense legislation while the true problems grew to crisis proportions.
If you're tired of waiting for "clout" to possibly kick in, it might be time to "Speed" things up.
Lest anyone think we don't understand how the Legislature works, that no one can go to Harrisburg and immediately start making a difference, we offer exhibit A: State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, elected in 2008 and one of the hardest-working legislators around. (And running unopposed next week.)
State Rep. Eugene DePasquale is another representative who hit the ground running after being elected in 2006 to represent the 95th House District.
In a normal election, we would wholeheartedly endorse the Democrat for another term, citing his tireless work on behalf of his constituents and the respect he's earned from colleagues in both parties.
Unfortunately, this isn't a normal election; DePasquale also is seeking the statewide office of auditor general. If he wins both positions, he's said he'll take the state office, leaving it up to the county parties to nominate candidates to run in a special election for the vacant 95th House seat.
This is not how the process should work; voters are supposed to nominate the candidates.
However, DePasquale is still the best choice on the ballot. If voting for him means we might have to go through this whole process (well, half the process) again later, so be it.