Tighter term limits on the mayor than on the council seems like a device aimed at the incumbent.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
We long have favored term limits. But they are not a panacea for political problems. Exhibit A: Proposition 140, which voters passed in 1990. It limited the governor to eight years in office, Assembly members to six years and state senators to eight years. It was modified this past June by Prop. 28, which limited legislative terms to 12 years total in either house.
Prop. 140 didn’t end the dysfunction in the Legislature. It only shifted power from a group of “old bulls” running the show to successive shifts of temporary leaders.
In Santa Ana, voters Nov. 6 will decide on Measure GG. It would limit the mayor to four two-year terms – a total of eight years. Currently, there are no term limits for the office. Mayor Miguel Pulido first was elected in November 1994 and is running again. The measure clearly is aimed at him. The council meeting that put Measure GG on the ballot was chaired by Councilman David Benavides, who this November is challenging Mr. Pulido for the mayor’s job.
According to a Register news story, Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who voted to put GG on the ballot, said, “We want to make sure that everybody on this dais has the same equal opportunity to be part of this government.” She was referring to the 12-year term limits for council members, which voters imposed with Measure D in 2008. Previously, the limit for council was eight years. She also ran against Mr. Pulido in 2008.
In response, we talked to Art Pedroza, a local activist who co-signed the argument against Measure GG in the ballot pamphlet. He pointed out that there wouldn’t really be “equal opportunity” under GG because the mayor would have only eight years, compared with 12 years for council members, giving them an advantage. Moreover, the mayor is not a “strong mayor,” as in Los Angeles. Instead, Santa Ana has what’s called a “weak mayor-strong council” system. The mayor is one of seven council members – except he must run every two years, instead of four years for council members.
Mr. Pedroza also charged that the council keeps changing the rules to its advantage, as when it put Measure D on the ballot, and could do so again if somebody more to its liking than Mr. Pulido was in the mayor’s chair.
We believe more thought should be given to this reform, with term limits set at 12 years for the mayor, as for the council. We recommend a No vote.