Montgomery County Council members are sworn in Dec. 1, 2014, in Rockville. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Regarding the Aug. 9 Metro article “Montgomery receives petitions asking to set term limits for county officials”:

Activist Robin Ficker’s and others’ term-limits effort will not accomplish what they hope. Democracy cannot be put on autopilot. Term-limiting council members would not improve governance by purge because developers and other interests would simply raise even more money to groom and support new cronies for election at every term limit.

A truly progressive reform would be eliminating the four at-large members. Three of these countywide officials live in Takoma Park. Montgomery County has more than 1 million residents, or about 200,000 per district. That is a massive number of voters to reach countywide and per district. Moving the at-large seats into four additional districts would lower the count to about 110,000; adding two new members would get it to about 91,000. Reducing district sizes would lower campaign costs and make effective grass-roots campaigns possible.

Along with a gerrymander-resistant redistricting law, more districts would generate geographic, ethnic and even political diversity where even a Republican or two could get elected. A term limit would not give Mr. Ficker and others who feel marginalized any new influence. It would lead only to new disappointing crony council members still in thrall to the same privileged interests as before.

Eric Hensal, Takoma Park