Activists Trying to Get Term Limits for the City Council on Ballot

Local activists say three four-year terms in office is the maximum City Councilmembers should serve.

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: wehotermlimits@gmail.com

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.

Should the City Councilmembers be limited to three four-year terms? Tell us in the comments and cast your vote in our Patch poll.

jimmy palmieri August 03, 2012 at 06:11 PM
How can I get out of this thread? I agree with a lot but the replies keep filling my mailbox.
Chloe Ross September 09, 2012 at 08:21 AM
The prop is tolet the voters decide whether to even put it on a ballot - what could be more democratic than that. Questioning our self-respect is so beside the point and clouds the issue. Part of the process is to allow the voters to decide yes or no. I think Scott - you are belaboring the issue and repeating yourself. I think anyone who reads these blogs knows where you stand. Your comments don't seem to be doing anything more than increasing the support being garnered for the prop. Perhaps your approach needs work.
Stephanie September 09, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Miles September 18, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Hardly anti-democratic or even non-Democratic. Term limits are not a right wing GOP idea, either. Whenever government loses touch with the people, the people will rise up and punch through a wall of developer-funded city council members, most of whom are like bad relatives who have over-stayed their welcome by a decade or more. Count this left leaning voter as a strong proponent of term limits. I just wish we could make the current council members exit stage left the day it passes, which it will. They should retire and move to Palm Springs and let the young voices come forward. This automated garage proves my point with a bold exclamation mark. What a waste and this proves they are so far out of touch (not unlike Mitt)!
Miles September 18, 2012 at 11:15 PM
P.S., if we can't have term limits, at the least we should have full public funding of all city council races. The cost would be far less than the gigantic white elephant, the automated garage. In fact, we could probably fund 200 years of council races with the money spent (wasted) on this big blunder. What the hell were they thinking?


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