A State Supreme Court ruling will allow Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota to run for a fourth term. It correctly concludes that a local term-limits law can't bind an official whose office is delineated in the state's constitution. So expect Spota, a Democrat who challenged the law, to be on the ballot again in 2013.

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The ruling gives voters a chance to keep a prosecutor with long experience in a job where experience counts for a lot. For those who want a fresh face, term limits are too blunt an instrument. The ultimate term-limiting mechanism is the ballot box. If voters don't like you, they can fire you on Election Day.

In Spota's case, given the history of Republicans cross-endorsing him, anyone who wants a change may be out of luck. Only in competitive elections can voters really tell someone it's time to go.