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Board of Supervisors Rejects Term Limit Ballot Measure

A week after a proposal to put a term limit extension on the ballot was introduced, the Board of Supervisors voted to reject it.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to reject putting a measure on November's ballot to extend the number of terms a supervisor could serve on the board.

The measure would have allowed members of the board to serve five four-year terms instead of three four-year terms.

The motion had been by County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who represents much of the San Gabriel Valley.  The board agreed to delay a vote on the measure for a week to allow more people to weigh in on it.

When it was introduced last week, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky sounded the motion for being "disingenuous" because the language proposed in the measure said it would "limit" supervisors to five terms and makes no mention of the existing law that limits supervisors to three. He suggested that people would believe they were introducing terms limits to the board rather than increasing the number of terms they can serve.

"We should not mislead the public by the way we word the ballot measure," Yaroslavsky said last week. He introduced a motion at the meeting that would direct county counsel to change the language to make it clear the measure would increase the number of terms a supervisor can serve.

Yaroslavsky represents beach communities from Venice to Malibu, most of the San Fernando Valley, and incorporated cities and Los Angeles neighborhoods between the beach and Glendale. To see a map of his district and a list of communities, click here.

The ballot measure would have allowed any board member serving on the board since before December of 2002 to serve five more terms after 2002, which is when term limits were first introduced for the Board.  That would mean several members, including Antonovich, would be eligible to serve much more than five terms.

Antonovich and Supervisor Don Knabe voted in favor, Yaroslavsky voted against and supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained.

Antonovich said he chose to introduce the measure to allow experienced board members to continue to serve.  He noted that four of the five elected representatives would be termed out in either 2014 or 2016. 

"Having the voters vote for a candidate of their choice is all this measure does," Antonovich said.  

In opposing the move, Yaroslavsky said he was theoretically against term limits but spoke out against backing a measure that would allow long-serving board members to continue to be elected to office more than five times.

"I think the notion that we are the only five people qualified to be stewards of this county going forth is selling short the people of this county," Yaroslavsky said. 

Yaroslavsky did move to put in an alternate measure with language that would extend term limits but would block the four existing board members from running again after they are termed out in 2014 or 2016. That motion failed to get a second backer and was not voted on.

Voters introduced term limits for the Board of Supervisors for the first time in 2002; previously there were no limits.

The 2002 measure allowed all incumbent Board members to run for three more terms and for all new candidates to be limited to three terms.

On the current board, Antonovich has been elected to the board eight times, Knabe has been elected four times, Yaroslavsky five times and Molina six.  

Mark Lewis July 31, 2012 at 09:36 PM
County government in Los Angeles is anti-democratic and dysfunctional. Incumbency is tantamount to election and continued re-election. Four of the five members of the LA County Board of Supervisors have been in office for twenty years or more. What should be public service becomes an entitlement for the members. They are remote and out of touch. In my view county government is in need of a complete overhaul and tune-up
RJ August 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM
...AMEN! If an elected official can't get what he/she wants to accomplish in 2-3 terms then it is time for a fresh face and new ideas or perspectives. Society evolves constantly....so should the people we elect to govern. I would offer that any political office that last longer than 2-3 terms ends up as a means to “protect” the status quo or special interest.

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