Local community advocate Mary Marlow and Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich have filed a ballot initiative for the 2018 election that would limit councilmembers to three terms.
The measure would provide individuals with up to 12 years (three terms of four years each) over the course of their lifetime and only applies to Council as elections for school board and the SMC college board are governed by state law. It would start counting those years from the date of the election allowing anyone currently on the council to serve an additional 12 years from November.
Ballot measures have a tight timeline to qualify for this year’s election.
Once the City reviews the measure, proponents will have up to 180 days to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Those signatures must be verified and approved with enough time for the City and County to sign off on the measure. Measures must be submitted to the County by Friday, August 10 to to guarantee a spot on the November ballot.
Councilman Kevin McKeown said term limits wouldn’t solve any of the problems associated with elections.
“We’ve watched term limits turn Sacramento over to lobbyists and special interests,” he said. “Leveling the playing field for new candidates calls for getting money and privilege out of politics, not restricting voters’ choice to retain experienced, effective representatives. I’ve championed clean public campaign finance laws in Santa Monica, only to be stymied by entrenched money, which distorts democracy. We need to provide financial support for genuine citizen representatives to lead our community, not just the corporate-sponsored or self-funding wealthy.”
Councilwoman Himmelrich, who is one of the measures backers, has said she is running for reelection.
City Hall has debated adding a measure to the ballot that would require a supermajority to approve some developments but nothing has been formally announced so far.
The City is also fighting a lawsuit filed by Oscar de la Torre that would force Santa Monica to implement district-based voting. That suit is scheduled to go to trial in July.
In addition to any ballot measures, the 2018 election will include 14 seats up for election on the City Council, Santa Monica Malibu Unified School Board and SMC Board.
The nomination period for candidates will be July 16 through August 10 with a possible five-day extension for each race if an incumbent does not file. The nomination period requires candidates to fill out the required paperwork and gather signatures.
This year’s elections include four seats on School Board (Oscar de la Torre, Craig Foster, Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein), three on City Council (Kevin McKeown, Pam O’Connor and Sue Himmelrich), three on the Rent Control Board (Nicole Phillis, Steve Duron and Todd Flora) and four for the Santa Monica College Board (Nancy Greenstein, Louise Jaffe, Barry A. Snell and Andrew Walzer).
All four school board incumbents have told The Daily Press they are running for reelection.
“As a product of our school district, a former employee of SMMUSD and a parent of two of our students, I have a personal commitment to serving on the school board,” said Oscar de la Torre.
“I am planning to seek re-election,” said Laurie Lieberman. “Obtaining a quality education remains key to becoming a good citizen and to leading a successful life. Our schools are doing a lot of great work. We continue to improve, to look for ways to engage all students and to help them learn and flourish in the rapidly changing world in which we live. There are ongoing projects, policies and challenges to which I believe I can continue to contribute positive and valuable leadership. I’m running for re-election to continue supporting what our district does well and to evaluate, reflect and help make changes and innovate where we need to do better.”
Councilwoman Pam O’Connor is the third incumbent up for reelection this year and has said she is considering her options.
Planning Commissioner Jennifer Kennedy has filed preliminary paperwork to establish a fundraising committee but declined to comment on her plans to run for Council.