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Santa Monica Term Limits Campaign Enters Final Lap
By Niki Cervantes
April 21, 2018 -- With a self-imposed deadline of April 30, volunteers are “on track” to collect more than enough signatures to place a proposed initiative on the November ballot imposing term limits on the Santa Monica City Council, the head organizer said Friday.
In its final lap, the proposed ballot measure has a team of 100 signature-gatherers (a dozen of whom who had just signed on from Santa Monica College Friday) hitting the pavement with an extra push.
Mary Marlow, who heads the Santa Monica Transparency Project -- a city watchdog group -- said she is optimistic. Marlow and Council Member Sue Himmelrich started the term-limits effort ("Proposed Ballot Measure Calls for Term Limits for Santa Monica Council Members," February 1, 2018).
“I think we’re going to see this on ballot,” Marlow said.
A total of about 10,500 valid signatures –- or 15 percent of registered voters -– is required to win a spot on the ballot this fall.
Marlow said the campaign will gather many more to serve as a cushion against signatures that could be deemed invalid for reasons that might include living outside Santa Monica borders.
Only City residents can sign.
All but a handful of those circulating petitions are volunteers, Marlow said. As the deadline neared, she said, some paid signature collectors were added.
The measure would amend the City Charter to limit each of the council’s seven members to three terms “whether consecutive or not,” and deems a partial term of more than two years as equaling one four-year term.
It would become effective after the November election, which includes two incumbents, Pam O’Connor and Kevin McKeown, who have each served twenty or more years, and Himmelrich, who is running for her second four-year term.
However, the amendment would only apply to council terms of office which begin on, or after, the election.
Like the city’s established power base in general, O’Connor and McKeown have long opposed term limits. In her first campaign for a council seat in 2014, Himmelrich said she would support them.
Since unveiling the proposed initiative in February, Marlow says she has talked with the city’s neighborhood organizations and such groups as the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City and Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights.
In those appearances, and as volunteers seek signatures throughout the city, a common reaction is “ ‘Don’t we already have that’? Don’t all the other cities have them,'” Marlow said.
She said she was also surprised by the consistent use of online petitions (at www.santamonicatransparency.org), instead of those handed to people from volunteers.
“Young people do almost everything online,” Marlow said. “For them, its download, print, sign and mail. I really think it’s the wave of the future.”
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