West Hollywood Term Limits: Group Officially Submits Petitions

Term Limit organizers Scott Schmidt and Sheila Lightfoot prepare to turn in more than 4,000 petitions, seeking to place an initiative on the March 2013 ballot that would restrict city council members to serving no more than three terms, at West Hollywood City Hall on Tuesday. (Photo by Jon Viscott)

Two months after beginning a Signature Drive, members of the West Hollywood Term Limits group submitted more than 4,000 petition signatures to the West Hollywood City Hall on Tuesday, believing they had far surpassed the amount needed to put the matter on a March 2013 ballot.

The group is seeking to restrict West Hollywood city council members to serving no more than three terms.

“We have been energized by the enthusiasm in the community for this issue,” said key organizer Scott Schmidt. “The people of West Hollywood are ready for change; they are ready for fresh, new leadership.”

Organizer Sheila Lightfoot announced on Monday that the crew had collected a final total of 3,454 signatures with verified West Hollywood addresses.

To qualify the petition for the March 2013 ballot, the group believed it needed a little more than 2,300 signatures from the 23,000 registered voters in the city (10 percent). In all, more than 4,000 signatures were collected.

Group volunteers made one final push last weekend, despite believing they had already far surpassed what was needed.

Of the city council members, only recently elected John D’Amico, has served less than a decade. John Heilman has served 28 years, Abbe Land 21, Mayor Jeff Prang 15 and John Duran 11.

During the signature drive, only Councilman D’Amico signed the petition.

“The conversation I had with John (D’Amico) was if 2 or 3,000 people in the city feel we should have the discussion, we should have the discussion about term limits,” Schmidt said. “I appreciate his fresh approach to it.”

According to Schmidt, the group did not receive any further feedback from the other council members.

In fact, according to Schmidt, term limit organizers approached Mayor Prang and Councilman Heilman at the Tom of Finland Erotic Art Fair over the weekend and could not get a response.

“We asked Heilman if he was a registered voter in West Hollywood and he kept walking,” Schmidt said with a laugh. “He didn’t decline, he just ignored us.”

Even if term-limits are imposed on the city council, each of the current council members could serve for another 12 years, as the law can not be retroactive.

“It really wasn’t about any of them individually, it was about empowering the people of West Hollywood to vote on the issue.”

Next up, the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters needs to verify the signatures (making sure the people that signed actually live in WeHo and are registered voters). The registrar gets 30 business days to do that before the city council can officially place the initiative on the March ballot.

The city council could adopt the petition into law, but that’s highly unlikely.

The city council has until Dec. 7 to make it all official; leaving either the Nov. 19 or Dec. 4 regularly scheduled meetings as potential dates to put the issue on the ballot.

The term limits group is a conglomerate of local activists who have led a number of other actions and movements against the city in the past. They’ve included key leaders of a lawsuit to save a property named Tara (after Gone With The Wind), another lawsuit to protect a Colonial revival apartment complex called Carlton Manor, and a recent movement to stop the city from moving forward on construction of Plummer Park.

Of the alliance: “It was spontaneous,” former city councilman and volunteer Steve Martin said. “Like Mary Magdalene.”

“Many of us,” he added, “have been friends for a long time.”

The term limits volunteers made their signature haul primarily during a six-week period, staking out at local hotspots, grocery stores, and walking up and down WeHo sidewalks.

This all comes on the heels of California Proposition 28, which reduced the total number of years a politician can serve in the California State Legislature from 14 to 12 years.

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Gal_Friday
Gal_Friday
7 years ago

Re: “Great points, Sheila and Gal Friday. You really convinced me.”

I don’t know who you are, and I’m not really interested in convincing you of anything. Boards like this are just public discussions where different views and experiences are put out there, maybe ultimately for people who haven’t given much thought to the matter before, and they can go from there.

Carmen Elliott
Carmen Elliott
7 years ago

Yeah, in twelve years… Funny, silly Pete…Ha!
The short haired one would be long in the tooth, like the rest, by then.
If only I had the money to keep re-electing the same old dinosaurs on council
over & over & over again.
I believe that honor is paid for by our charming lobbyists.

PeteP
PeteP
7 years ago

Great points, Sheila and Gal Friday. You really convinced me. The bottom line is that West Hollywood is a very well run city and the people of the city are obviously happy with their leaders since they keep re-electing them time and time again. If the people thought that the current council was so bad, they would vote them out and elect people who are more responsive to their needs. Ask your colleague (the one with the short hair) about that – I believe that he tried to get on the council and came in 6th place. Sounds like people… Read more »

Gal_Friday
Gal_Friday
7 years ago

I’m confused by people who say “With term limits, you’re constantly getting inexperienced people in office!” 1.) NONE of our current council members had ANY experience as politicians before joining the Council…yet they seem to have done a decent job in the beginning, 2.) There are plenty of Weho residents with experience in many different areas, and 3.) We need Council members who are intelligent, but who also will create a partnership with The People in decision-making….something the “lifers” on the Council utterly fail at.

Me
Me
7 years ago

couldn’t have said it any better sheila!!!….great, great work you all have done on behalf of most WEHOans!!!!! 🙂

Sheila Lightfoot
Sheila Lightfoot
7 years ago

Pardon me, sir, but I’m not a gay Republican… I’m a straight Democrat. If you hadn’t noticed there are two of us standing at the door to City Hall. I’m the one with longer hair. As for the multitude of volunteers who collected those signatures, I can’t tell you whether they are gay, straight, Republican, Democrat or any other label you might care to attach. I didn’t ask. I don’t believe there is a litmus test regarding who can live in West Hollywood and participate in our local governance. If diversity isn’t the core value of West Hollywood, what is?

PeteP
PeteP
7 years ago

Term limits don’t work and never have. The reason why Sacramento is so dysfunctional is that it is run by a bunch of amateurs who know nothing about how to run a government. All we have here is a gay Republican dusting off an old trick from the Republican playbook. By the way, I love it how the vast majority of gay Republicans live in states and cities controlled by Democrats. Go be a gay Republican in Alabama or Kentucky and let me know how that works out.