Term limits date back to the American Revolution, and prior to that to the democracies and republics of antiquity. The council of 500 in ancient Athens rotated its entire membership annually, as did the ephorate in ancient Sparta. The ancient Roman Republic featured a system of elected magistrates—tribunes of the plebs, aediles, quaestors, praetors, and consuls —who served a single term of one year, with re-election to the same magistracy forbidden for ten years (see cursus honorum). According to historian Garrett Fagan, office holding in the Roman Republic was based on "limited tenure of office" which ensured that "authority circulated frequently", helping to prevent corruption. An additional benefit of the cursus honorum or Run of Offices was to bring the "most experienced" politicians to the upper echelons of power-holding in the ancient republic. Many of the founders of the United States were educated in the classics, and quite familiar with rotation in office during antiquity. The debates of that day reveal a desire to study and profit from the object lessons offered by ancient democracy.
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