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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA May 1, 2007 Election
Proposition C
Maximum Terms of Office
City of Long Beach

Charter Amendment

7,007 / 31.4% Yes votes ...... 15,278 / 68.6% No votes

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Information shown below: Summary | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall Proposition C, which amends the Long Beach City Charter by: modifying the term limits for the Mayor and City Council offices from two terms to three terms; and modifying the term limits for members of the Harbor and Water Commissions to three four-year terms be adopted?

Summary Prepared by LWV Long Beach Area
Education Fund:

The Way It Is Now: Currently, the City Charter limits Council members to two full four year terms in office. The same is true for the office of the Mayor. The Harbor and Water Commissioners are limited to two full terms of six years for Harbor Commissioners and five years for Water Commissioners.

What Proposition C Would Do: This proposition changes the term limits so that the Council and Mayor would be allowed to serve for twelve years (three terms). The Harbor and Water Commissioners would be limited to four year terms but could be appointed to a total of three terms.

Supporters Say:

  • Being in office for only 8 years encourages Council members to concentrate on short term goals rather than looking for long-term solutions to our problems.
  • Being in office for 3 terms would mean that Council members would have to live with the results of their decisions.
  • The Harbor and Water Commissioners should have terms which match the term lengths of the City Council members who appoint them.

Opponents say:
  • Limiting Council members to two terms makes it easier to bring new members with fresh ideas to serve on the City Council.
  • Extending the limit to three terms would make it more difficult to have a turnover of Council members since unseating incumbents is more difficult the longer they remain in office.
  • Wide-open races for vacant seats often attract a number of qualified candidates and are invigorating and good for the city as a whole.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
Robert E. Shannon
Voter approval of Proposition C would amend Sections 214 and 508 of the Long Beach City Charter, relating to term limits, and would be applicable to the City Council, Mayor and Charter-mandated commissions, as are more particularly described below:

Presently, the Long Beach City Charter provides that the Mayor and members of the City Council may serve no more than two full four-year terms unless the candidate chooses to run for office as a write-in. The proposed amendment would increase those term limits, and permit the Mayor and the City Council to serve a maximum of three full four-year terms.

Presently, the Long Beach Charter provides that members of Charter-mandated commissions may serve no more than two full four-year terms, except that members of the Harbor Commission may serve a maximum of two full six-year terms and members of the Water Commission may serve a maximum of two full five-year terms. The proposed amendment would modify the term limits of the Harbor Commission and the Water Commission to permit members serve a maximum of three full four-year terms.

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date: Saturday, April 21
time: 10 am - 12 noon
place: Los Altos Library, 5614 Britton Dr
plus: short presentation on the city Budget for fiscal 2008 by David Wodynski, Bureau Manager, Budget and Performance Management Bureau
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Arguments For Proposition C Arguments Against Proposition C
Our City government needs reform.

Two term limits on elected officials have done a disservice to our City. It encourages elected officials to pursue short-term policy successes that will allow them to run for higher office in order to avoid being termed-out, rather than look for long-term solutions to challenges facing our city.

When experienced representatives are termed-out, replacements must rely heavily on bureaucrats and lobbyists for expertise. These new elected officials can avoid accountability for the long-term effects of policies enacted by the previous officeholder. We need to hold our elected officials accountable for the long-term impacts of their decisions.

Harbor Commissioners and Water Commissioners currently have longer terms of office than the Mayor and City Council who appoint them. These non-elected commissioners need to have their terms of office brought in line with elected officials in order to make them responsive to the public.

  • A YES vote on Proposition C establishes a limit of three terms for City Council members to increase accountability and reduce the influence of lobbyists and bureaucrats.

  • A YES vote on Proposition C changes the terms of Water Commissioners, Harbor Commissioners and all other Charter-mandated Commissions to three terms of four years.

  • A YES vote on Proposition C ensures that our elected representatives will have a long-term perspective on the issues they face and be held accountable for the outcomes.

We need real reform for Long Beach so we can have a government that is responsive to the needs of our community and held accountable for the long-term effects of their decisions.

Please vote YES on Proposition C.

Senator Alan Lowenthal

Former Mayor Beverly O'Neill

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Proponent's arguments regarding term limits are faulty for several reasons:

  • They attempt to make you believe councilmembers will not run for higher office as often if they receive a third term. Yet, if you examine the past 20 years, several councilmembers sought higher office (e.g., mayor, state assembly) during their first term. In fact, right now we have a first-term councilmember + elected in 2004 + who has announced he's running for state assembly!

  • They use term limits as an excuse for councilmembers' failure in find answers to long-term challenges facing our city. Just how many years does an elected official need to find solutions to key problems? Don't you think 8 years is a long time? We do. If they can't do it in 8 years, they certainly aren't capable of doing it in 12.

  • They apparently believe that newly elected councilmembers fall prey to "bureaucrats and lobbyists for expertise." That's similar to saying newly elected officials are incapable of thinking for themselves. Think about that. Then ask your councilperson if he or she is thinking for himself/herself or is relying on lobbyists to cast his/her votes.

  • Read the headlines. Congressmen who have been in office for decades have been forced to resign because of their dealings with lobbyists. Longer terms do not equate to less influence from lobbyists.

This measure fails to improve accountability to you, the voter.
Two terms allows for consistent change and new ideas -- and change is good!

Vote NO on Prop C

Robert Fronke, Former City Auditor

John Gooding, Citizens for a Better Long Beach

George Economides, Publisher, Long Beach Business Journal

Fellow Citizens:

Limiting councilmembers to two four-year terms, which voters passed overwhelmingly in 1992, has ensured that new members have joined our city council every election since. These new members invariably added fresh ideas, new approaches to old problems, diverse viewpoints, and renewed energy to achieve significant progress.

Council positions should not be considered career opportunities or a stepping stone to higher office. Ideally they should be filled by citizens volunteering for a limited period to give their time and experience to represent neighbors in solving common problems.

Achieving this ideal will be less likely if term limits are extended. In a separate proposition (Proposition D) on this ballot, the council is proposing to liberalize incumbent's ability to run as a write-in candidate. This makes it much easier for someone to continue in office without extending terms.

Some argue that replacing long-time incumbents can be left to the voters at election time; however, experience has shown that unseating an incumbent is quite difficult, more so the longer he or she holds office. Running for council is a costly and time consuming effort. Faced with a well-financed incumbent, many well qualified candidates are unwilling to make the effort, while a wide-open race for a vacant seat often attracts a number of qualified candidates who bring positions on issues of vital interest to voters. Are such vacant-seat races invigorating and good for our city as a whole, and for the district involved? We're convinced they are. If you agree, you should oppose this proposition.

Let's assure that there is a reasonable opportunity for all to participate in our city government.

Let's continue to limit the council to two terms.

Vote NO on Proposition C.

Robert Fronke, Former City Auditor

John Gooding, Citizens for a Better Long Beach

George Economides, Publisher, Long Beach Business Journal

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Created: July 30, 2007 17:52 PDT
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