Howard County Council member Darrel Drown (R-District 2) is a man in a hurry -- and for good reason.

He doesn't expect to be around for more than three four-year terms. And he doesn't believe other council members should be around longer than 12 years, either.

The freshman council member is expected to introduce legislation Monday that would limit to three the number of terms a person could serve on the County Council.

Drown needs the support of at least three of his four colleagues on the County Council to put the proposal on the ballot during the 1992 election.

If he doesn't get that support, he is vowing to lead a petition drive to gather the signatures needed to put the question on the ballot without council approval.

"This is something I feel very strongly about," Drown said.

Drown said he hopes to hold a public hearing on the measure Feb. 19. He said it will be drafted so that current members of the County Council would be eligible for at least two more terms.

Howard County's charter already limits its county executive to two four-year terms. State law prohibits governors from serving more than two four-year terms.

Not all council members believe the county needs to limit their terms.

Noting that no member of the current council has served more than one full term, council member Shane Pendergrass (D-District 1) said, "I'm leaning against it. I don't know what I'm fixing that is broken."

Pendergrass is one of three council members serving a second term.

"I don't see that we've had any problem with incumbency in the past," said council member Paul R. Farragut (D-District 4), who was appointed to an open seat in 1989 and won reelection in November. "But as a practical matter, I'm going to keep an open mind about it."

Many Republicans in Maryland have been in favor of term-limitation measures as a way to try to end the Democratic Party's domination of state politics. Drown said he expects Republicans to introduce such legislation in the General Assembly this year.

Republicans have made impressive strides statewide in registering more new voters than Democrats. But it will take time before the registration gains translate into GOP political power. In the state legislature, for instance, Republicans increased their presence in the 47-member Senate after the last election from seven to nine members, and in the 141-member House of Delegates from 16 to 25.

"I really think my bill crosses party lines," Drown said. "But if works out to the advantage of Republicans, so much the better."

Groups such as Common Cause of Maryland have remained neutral on the issue of term limits, said Phil Andrews, executive director of the state organization.

"On the pro side, it is good to have new blood and it can generate more competition for the seats," Andrews said.

"But {term limits} can be an arbitrary means of preventing people from serving in government. They also limit voters' ability to vote for the candidate of their choice."

Andrews said Common Cause has preferred to concentrate on "promoting competition in all elections by reducing the unfair advantages incumbents have in raising money."

Without a limit on incumbency, Drown said, elected officials tend to become "career politicians," a trend that he said "severely limits opportunities in government service for newcomers with fresh perspectives and new ideas and discourages citizens from challenging long-term, entrenched politicians."

Drown said he also will ask County Council members to endorse a non-binding resolution calling on the Maryland congressional delegation to propose a constitutional amendment to limit U.S. senators to two six-year terms and U.S. representatives to six two-year terms.