This week marks the last chance for individuals who want to sign petitions to establish term limits for Santa Monica City Council.
Campaign organizers plan to submit signatures to City Hall soon and are making a last effort to reach anyone that wants to sign a petition. Organizers need to gather signatures from 15 percent of registered voters, or about 10,500 individuals, to qualify for the November ballot.
“We’re trying to gather up everyone’s final petitions but it’s going to take us the rest of the week,” said campaign organizer Mary Marlow.
Marlow said volunteers have targeted high traffic areas including grocery stores, the post office, and local parks. She said the campaign wants to submit plenty of extra signatures to account for any that are disqualified.
Marlow said a few people have opposed the proposal but the majority residents have been supportive.
“It’s been very positive,” she said. “Most people are surprised we don’t have limits.”
Santa Monica has term limits for appointed boards and commissions but not for elected councilmembers.
The proposed amendment to the City Charter 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.
Current Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich is one of the proposal’s authors but other councilmembers have criticized the idea saying it would increase the influence of lobbyists and undermine the experience gathered by longtime councilmembers. Supporters say it will open the field for new candidates who are currently shut out due to the power of incumbency.
City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren said she advises campaigns to submit signatures by mid-May to allow enough time for the verification process. Once signatures are delivered to City Hall, the County has 30 days to verify them. The proposal must then appear on a City Council agenda to be formally placed on the ballot and the County Board of Supervisors must also formally vote to include the amendment in the consolidated election.
Measures must be submitted to the County by Friday, August 10 to guarantee a spot on the November ballot.
Marlow said anyone that wants to sign the petition but who can’t find a volunteer can download a form from the website http://www.santamonicatransparency.org. Additional information will also be posted on the campaign’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/smtl2018/.
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).