Laguna Hills term limits initiative qualifies for November ballot

LAGUNA HILLS TERM LIMITS COMMITTEE

Contact: Barbara Kogerman, 949-586-5552, Cell 949-422-6203, bdv@cox.net
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2010

Laguna Hills Term Limits Initiative Qualifies for Nov. Ballot

After nearly 20 years of virtually the same five people running their city, voters in Laguna Hills have said, “Enough!” and successfully qualified a term limits measure for the November ballot, Laguna Hills Term Limits Committee Chair and city council candidate Barbara Kogerman announced today.

The enormous community-wide effort garnered nearly 3000 signatures to qualify the initiative, Kogerman says, “and that process gave us an opportunity to gage voter sentiment. Out of every 100 people we reached, two or three said, ‘No way,’ another two or three wanted to study the issue, and about 95 said, ‘Give me that pen!’” says Kogerman. “After my City Manager Compensation Report came out showing the City Council voted last year to compensate our City Manager $460,809—over $105,000 more than any other City Manager in Orange County—voters became indignant that the city’s spending priorities are so out of whack.

“We’ve had the same City Manager since this very same council was elected in 1991. And the same city council member, Craig Scott, has continually negotiated the City Manager’s compensation contract. But,” Kogerman adds, “the entire council majority must be held accountable for this reckless financial boondoggle.

“Term limits will allow the election of council members who make decisions based on the needs of the residents, not long-standing personal relationships. Out of the nearly 100 years of cumulative service by this council, only 8 were by someone else.”

“Term limits will make room for fresh candidates, encourage participation in the elective process, and bring new ideas and practices to redirect spending priorities,” according to Laguna Hills businessman and term limits proponent James Vaughn.

The term limits measure limits council members to two consecutive four-year terms. After that, they must stand down for at least two years before they are eligible to run for election again. There is no life-time cap on the number of terms a council member can serve.

“This measure provides a clear time horizon for council members to gain the experience they need to be effective yet maintains a healthy turnover to balance the need for strong, experienced leadership,” according Jean Bland, publisher of the Laguna Hills Watch Dog and another term limits proponent. “If after two terms a council member wants to run again in two years, he or she can do that. In the meantime, we’re guaranteed a slot for a new council member at least every eight years.”

Laguna Hills residents seemed to agree. Proponents needed 1935 signatures, representing 10% of the city’s registered voters, to put the measure on the ballot. Nearly 3000 voters signed the petition for term limits.

Kogerman began the term limits initiative process last year, filing the required legal documents with the city on Jan. 12. On that same night, she requested the Laguna Hills City Council to adopt the measure for the November ballot, noting that term limits have proven extremely popular with voters.

“Most term limits initiatives in Orange County have passed by 70-to-75%,” she told the council. “You can face the inevitable and vote now to place this measure on the November ballot, and save the people of Laguna Hills the time, money and effort of qualifying an initiative.”
No city council action was taken on Kogerman’s request. Council members instead voted to request a staff study of term limits in general, a study that was delayed in its presentation to the council until June 8. That report showed that over 60% of Orange County cities impose some form of term limits, most of which are similar to the measure that will appear on the Laguna Hills November ballot, precisely as briefed by Kogerman in January.

A resolution by the City to the County Registrar of Voters requesting the placement of the citizen-qualified initiative on the November ballot is scheduled to come before City Council at the July 13 meeting.

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