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Santa Monica Council Grudgingly Places Term Limits Measure on Ballot


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July 30, 2018 -- The Santa Monica City Council voted grudgingly last week to place a measure on the November ballot that would limit Council members to three terms.

Because the measure received the necessary 10,620 voter signatures to qualify, the Council had little choice but to place it on the ballot.

Measure TL -- which limits terms “whether consecutive or not” -- would only apply to council terms of office that begin on, or after, the election ("Proposed Ballot Measure Calls for Term Limits for Santa Monica Council Members," February 1, 2018).

Council member Kevin McKeown, who is running for a sixth four year term this year, called the measure a "reactionary move" that will limit voter options.

He suggested that the City Attorney consider rewriting the ballot description to state that the measure is intended to "constrain the freedom of a voter."

McKeown noted that TL would likely have little impact on his tenure on the dais, since he would be 82 years old in 2030 when the term limits would apply to him.

Vazquez -- who returned to the Council in 2012 after losing his seat in 1994 -- questioned the constitutionality of forbidding someone to make a political comeback after serving three terms.

"I think to exclude somebody (after) three terms and you can never come back I believe is unconstitutional," Vazquez said.

Councilmember Sue Himmelrich, one of the sponsors of TL, said she backed the measure "as a matter of principal."

"I continue to believe in term limits in particular for volunteer positions like this," Himmelrich said.

Council seats, she said, "do not require 8 or 12 or 16 years of background in order to responsibly do this job."

Himmelrich, who is running for relection in November, has vowed to step down after her second term.

She is the junior member of the Council, with Pam O'Connor, who is the senior member, seeking an unprecedented seventh term this year.

The measure's backers say limiting terms will ensure more turnover on the Council ("Santa Monica Voters to Decide Term Limits for Council in November," July 5, 2018).

Only two incumbents have failed to be reelected in the past 24 years, and two of the current councilmembers were initially appointed to fill vacancies created when longtime council members died in office.


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