Could term limits be on the horizon for members of the West Hollywood City Council?
Currently city councilmembers can serve just as long as the voters keep casting their ballots for them. But a group of local activists are trying to put term limits on the ballot for the March 2013 election.
That measure would limit councilmembers to three four-year terms in office. Those terms could be served consecutively and scattered, but 12 years would be the maximum a councilmember could serve.
“While all of the councilmembers have done many good things for the city during their tenure, these should not be lifetime positions,” said Elyse Eisenberg, one of the people spearheading this drive. “When the president of the United States serves only eight years and is expected to change the world during that time, 12 years should be sufficient for our own councilmembers to enact their vision for our city.”
Adds Lauren Meister, another longtime activist who worked on the measure, “if West Hollywood residents want an opportunity for new blood on City Council, the only way it's going to happen is with term limits.”
Of the current city Council members, John Heilman has served 28 years, Abbe Land has served 21, Jeff Prang has served 15 and John Duran for 11. The new kid on the Council, John D’Amico, has served for one year.
The measure would not be retroactive; state law forbids that. Therefore, if the measure passes, all the current councilmembers would be allowed another 12 years, provided the voters keep electing them.
Steve Martin, who served on the Council from 1994-2003, believes having term limits would encourage more public participation by giving more people a chance at office.
“The council needs some fresh blood, new ideas,” said Martin. “Incumbents always have an advantage at the ballot box because of the name recognition and the ability to raise money for campaigns. But this would help level things out.”
The easiest way to get the measure on the March ballot would be for the City Council to approve it, but Martin doesn’t expect that to happen.
“It’s not in their best interest to do that,” he said.
Martin reports that a “long list of people” have already volunteered to help collect the 3,000-4,000 signatures needed to get the initiative on the ballot. Expect to see them outside Gelson’s, Pavilions and other places in the coming weeks.
Contact the group at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is the text of the measure:
No person shall serve more than a total of three terms as a West Hollywood City Council member. For purposes of this section, any portion of a term, whether elected or appointed, shall be counted as a full term. The terms may be served consecutively or non-consecutively. This ordinance shall become effective upon the date of adoption.
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