Term limits put on November ballot

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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The Loomis Town Council has put term limits on the November ballot after the county clerk noted an unintentional omission from the proponents’ petition. At the Jan. 11 council meeting, Term Limits for Loomis committee members said they were not aware and were not informed that on the face of their petition it needed to in-clude “a request that the ordinance be immediately submitted to a vote of the people at a special election.” Both Sonja Cupler and Barbara Burklow, who along with former Loomis Mayor Tom Millward circulated the petition that received 1,200 signatures, told council they verbally informed all signers that their intent was to put the ordinance on the June 8, 2010 ballot. Cupler said having the ordinance approved by voters on the June ballot “would have encouraged more citizens who wouldn’t normally consider running for office to do so, as they would not be challenging an established, entrenched opponent.” Cupler said she did not know of anyone who was interested in running for council at this time, but said she wanted term limits “to encourage more residents to participate in local government, to bring fresh ideas and new faces” to the council. At the town council meeting, Cupler and Burklow asked the council to put the initiative on the June ballot as planned. Cupler asked Council members Walt Scherer and Miguel Ucovich to recuse themselves from voting since they had both shared opposition to hav-ing it on the June ballot. The councilmen did not recuse themselves. Town staff noted that, at this time, no other local initiative is scheduled to go on the bal-lot and it would cost the town $6 per voter, or if half of those registered voted, $12,000. Jean Wilson, planning commissioner, addressed the council in favor of putting the ordi-nance on the November ballot instead of June. “I hate to see money spent that isn’t needed. This is a significant matter for this town and how elections are held. This is a matter that deserves the highest voter turnout we can get,” Wilson said. Staff said it would be a total cost of $204 to include the item on the November General Election ballot. Council voted to include the issue on the November ballot when the cost would be significantly less and the voter turnout would be greater. Councilman Russ Kelley said he did not consider the money spent on the June election to be “squandering, with the number of people who signed it.” “Political maneuvering is what’s going on here,” Kelley said. Mayor Gary Liss reviewed a copy of the petition and said, “It’s great to see democracy in action, but I am not persuaded that there was any indication that those who signed were informed about the Special Election.” The proposed ordinance states that council members may only serve two consecutive, four-year terms, then must stay off the council for eight years before they can run again. If passed, term limits would become retroactive and if council members Scherer or Ucovich ran on the November ballot and won, they would be unable to serve. Rhonda Morillas' term is up in two years. If the term limits issue were to pass, she would be unable to run for eight more years. Kelley and Liss are both serving their first terms on council and term limits would allow them to run again one more time before having to take eight years off.