Wednesday, August 8, 2001
Board of Supervisors Puts Two Term Limits Measures on March Ballot
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The district attorney, the sheriff, the county assessor and the five county supervisors would face term limits for the first time under a measure approved for the March 2002 ballot yesterday by the Board of Supervisors.
After numerous recent failed attempts to curb the officials’ enormous power in a county of 10 million people, the board acted to send the issue to the voters as part of a settlement to a lawsuit.
A group called Voters Organized for Trustworthy Elections sued the county last year after it gathered enough signatures to put term limits on the ballot. County election officials ruled that the group fell short by more than 1,000 signatures, but later—after the deadline for the November ballot had passed—acknowledged that there were enough signatures after all.
Closed-door settlement negotiations with the group resulted in a package that County Counsel Lloyd W. Pellman said will be presented to the board next Tuesday.
But the key portion of the settlement included the term limits measure, which is more liberal than the two-term maximum the group sought last year.
Under one of two proposals, county supervisors would be limited to three four-year terms. The limits would not begin to run until supervisors are next re-elected.
The second proposal is identical, but would also include the district attorney, the assessor, and the sheriff.
District Attorney Steve Cooley aid through a spokeswoman that the plan had “pros and cons.”
“Ultimately, it’s up to the voters to decide if it is appropriate for this level of government,” Cooley’s office said.
Sheriff Lee Baca and Assessor Rick Auerbach were out of town and unavailable for comment. Auerbach spokesman Robert Knowles said the assessor “doesn’t have any objection to putting this on the ballot.”
The supervisors in recent years have fended off numerous assaults on their power, keeping off the ballot a series of measures that would have expanded their number, limited their terms or imposed an elected county executive to take over administrative functions.
But in the action yesterday they appear to have relented on sending the issue of term limits—-rarely rejected by voters – to the ballot.
Gloria Molina was absent. Only Mike Antonovich voted no.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company