Voters to decide term limits

Loomis council votes to put issue on November ballot
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Voters may get two chances to decide Loomis council term limits in 2010 – in the June primary and November general elections. The Loomis Town Council voted 3 to 1 to place the term limit issue on the November ballot, while a committee comprised of former mayor Tom Millward and two Loomis residents have gathered signatures and plan to place it on the June primary ballot. According to Dave Larsen, town attorney, it’s all perfectly legal to have the exact same initiative on the ballot at two different elections. He said the outcome of the November election would “trump” whatever is decided in June. Mayor Walt Scherer asked that the initiative being presented by Millward appear on the general election ballot. Scherer and councilmen Miguel Ucovich and Gary Liss voted in favor, councilman Russ Kelley voted against, and councilwoman Rhonda Morillas was absent. “It’s important that the public vote on it at a general election when most people are voting and it’s the most cost effective,” Scherer said. Millward said in a prepared statement given at the council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, that his committee “can’t rely on the council to follow through on this agenda item … you could still repeal it before November 2010, making term limits a dead issue.” The ballot summary prepared by the term limits committee states that “each Town Council member will be limited to two consecutive four-year terms in office” and won’t be eligible to serve again for eight years. The document states that the rules, if approved, would go into effect Aug. 1, 2010. According to Town Clerk Crickett Strock, Scherer and Morillas are both serving their fifth terms on the council, although Scherer took a 4-year break in the 1990s. Ucovich is serving his third term. The council seats of Scherer, Ucovich and Kelley are up for election in November 2010. Millward served one 4-year term on the council, during which he was mayor for one year. He lost in his re-election bid to Gary Liss last November. Town attorney Larsen said the effective date of Aug. 1 would mean that if Ucovich and Scherer run for re-election in 2010 and if the term limits proposal passes during that election, they would not be able to serve, even if they are re-elected. But if term limits passes in June, and fails in November their re-election would stand. Ryan Ronco, assistant registrar for Placer County, said voter turnout is higher in general elections. He said that countywide 70 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the November general elections versus 60 percent in the June primaries. Ronco also said that since the town is already required to purchase ballots for the November election, the additional cost to add the term limit initiative would be one cent per ballot or $40.39 for 4,039 registered voters in the Town of Loomis. “The Board of Supervisors encourages towns and cities to put their items on the even-year November ballots,” he said. The town’s cost for the June election, he explained, would range from 88 cents to $6 per ballot, or approximately $3,600 to $24,000. Kelley commented at the meeting, “As elected officials you tend to get too territorial, too opinionated, you find ways to justify what you do. You can accomplish what you want in two terms.” Ucovich declared, “Every four years people can vote to keep someone there or not keep someone there.” Millward said that his committee has “more than enough” signatures and plans to go forward with the initiative and have it placed on the June 8 ballot. It looks like the voters will get to decide – twice.