Advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall Monday to submit signatures in support of their effort to establish term limits for City Council. With petitions arriving up to the deadline, supporters said they had gathered more than 19,000 signatures in support of the proposal.
If passed by voters in November, the measure would limit Councilmembers to three terms. The City currently imposes term limits for appointed boards and commissions but does not have limits for elected officials. The proposal would only add term limits to the City Council.
Campaign organizer Mary Marlow said the signature gathering effort had garnered unprecedented support from residents.
“That’s the most (signatures) that I’ve seen collected for any petition in Santa Monica,” she said. “We had overwhelming support for people signing the petition. We didn’t get that many people that were either against it or didn’t know how they felt. This was an amazing feat so let’s turns these petitions into the city and get this going.”
To qualify for the November ballot, supporters need signatures from 15 percent of registered voters or about 10,500 votes. Officials have 30 days to verify the signatures provided on Monday and once verified, the proposal will be put before the City Council who formally add the initiative to the election. The 15 percent threshold is required as the proposal would modify the City Charter.
Marlow said more than 100 volunteers worked on the signature campaign.
Supporters of the measure say increased turnover on the Council will improve the Council’s responsiveness to citizens and limit the power of outside Political Action committees who often provide financial backing to incumbents.
While no formal opposition campaign has been formed, several members of the council have criticized the measure saying it limits the influence of elected leaders on long-term projects and actually increases the influence wielded by lobbyists.
Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich co-authored the term limit proposal and said voters should be able to decide the issue.
Also present at the event was longtime local advocate Jule Lamm.
Lamm, a WWII veteran, said regardless of an individual’s support for term limits, the proposal deserved to be put to a public vote.
“When our elected officials fight us to be able to vote on things, that does not strike me as democracy and I’m strong on democracy,” he said.