Term Limits Issue Highlights Need for Citizen Initiative Rights

Thu, Jun 10 2010 by Anonymous

The Laguna Hills, California city council recently decided not to put a term-limits measure on the ballot for voters. They cited the fact that a citizen initiative campaign was already underway to put the measure on the ballot:

The City Council has decided not to develop a ballot measure for voters in the November election that would impose term limits on council members.

The council on Tuesday reviewed a report explaining the process for drafting the ballot measure, and a majority decided not to move forward with the initiative. No vote was taken on the issue.

Councilman Joel Lautenschleger noted a council-sponsored ballot measure would be redundant since Barbara Kogerman, a candidate for council in the November election, announced last week she had submitted a petition to the City Clerk with signatures of nearly 3,000 residents in favor of a term limit initiative.

I assume the city council is acting in good faith when they say the reason they’re not pursuing putting the measure on the ballot is a pre-existing citizen initiative. However, this highlights exactly why citizen initiative rights are so important in holding government accountable. What if they citizens of Laguna Hills did not have the ability to gather signatures to try and put a term-limits initiative on the ballot? Could the city council be trusted to do it on their own, without the threat of a citizen initiative?