Thursday, November 29, 2001
Council Backs Measure for Increased Term Limits for City Offices
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The City Council yesterday approved a measure that will let voters decide whether to extend the limits on service of all city elected officials from two to three terms, despite strong objections from Mayor James Hahn.
Hahn still must give final approval to the measure, a move which seems especially unlikely after he sent a Nov. 28 letter to council President Alex Padilla urging the council not to include citywide offices in the measure.
“It is my view that it is too soon to attempt to overturn what is the clear sentiment of the voters,” Hahn wrote. “At this time, I oppose any change to the city’s term limit laws.”
Los Angeles voters approved a measure in 1993 limiting the mayor, city attorney, controller, and council members to two four-year terms each.
Councilman Nate Holden argued it was not too soon to revisit the issue.
“What’s wrong with telling the voters ‘eight years ago you did something, now let’s see what you’ll do now?’” Holden asked. “Voters make the final decision.”
In his letter, Hahn requested that the ordinance be amended to preserve the existing limit of two terms for the citywide offices. Holden introduced a motion that reflected the mayor’s wishes to exclude the citywide offices, but it failed.
Citing a lack of public input, Councilwoman Janice Hahn asked that the issue be brought back to the Rules and Elections Committee for further review.
“There is no great study on whether or not voters want to extend term limits,” Hahn said. “The effects of the current limits were only brought forth July 1 of this year.
“March is not the only time term limits can be on the ballot.”
Councilman Dennis Zine said that an extra term shouldn’t make much difference if elected officials are dedicated to public service, and Councilman Tom LaBonge seconded Janice Hahn’s motion to further investigate public opinion.
Holden criticized unnamed colleagues whom he claimed had privately supported the mayor’s proposal to retain the two-term limit for citywide offices, but backed way from it in public.
“I’ve never seen anything so flaky in my life on an issue so important to the people,” Holden said. “You will need three terms if elected. We have nothing to gain except someone in office who will be gaining more experience and knowledge.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company