David Witt, Art Madrid, Kristine Alessio
At the October 8 La Mesa City Council meeting, discussion of a proposal to put a term-limit measure on the November 2014 ballot led to protests from two residents, support from seven others, and the councilmembers' decision to delay action until their October 22 meeting.
Some residents supporting and opposing vice mayor Kristine Alessio's proposal also favored postponing the discussion to allow for more public response. (The council convenes at 4 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month and at 6 p.m. two weeks later.)
Alessio, who was elected to her first term in 2012, proposed a measure to set a limit of three consecutive terms for someone elected to the council, as mayor, or both offices. After serving three consecutive terms, the individual could not run for office for "at least two years."
Term-limit opponent Kristin Kjaero said, "If it were any other field or profession, we would not be arguing that experience is a negative thing."
Supporter Dexter Levy called for an overhaul of the election system that would include taking pay and other benefits away from elected officials.
Alessio's measure would affect incumbents elected in 2014. Up for re-election then are mayor Art Madrid and councilmen Ernest Ewin and Mark Arapostathis.
Voters elected Madrid to a four-year council term in 1981. He served on the council until 1990, when he was elected mayor. Arapostathis was elected to the council in 2006. Ewin served on the council from 1985–1999 and was reelected to the council in 2010. Alessio said Ewin returned to the council with "private sector experience."
Ruth Sterling has served on the council since 1992 and was reelected in 2012. She responded to residents' proposals for term limits on all elected offices: city clerk Mary Kennedy ran unopposed in 2012, and Sterling said, "The city clerk is not the type [of position] you can term out after 12 years."
Arapostathis, a teacher, referred to supporters' comments about the private sector: "This is not my full-time job," he said. Arapostathis asked city manager David Witt to research whether cities in the county with part-time councils also have term limits.
Arapostathis also asked whether term limits would apply to members of the Grossmont Union High School District and La Mesa–Spring Valley School District boards.
Alessio shook her head and said, "I carefully tailored this to the city council or as mayor."
People in the audience included La Mesa–Spring Valley school board member Bill Baber. Attorney Alessio identified Baber as an attorney who helped her draft the ordinance.
(corrected 7:55 p.m., 10/9)