The Ventura County Star recently published an article about our five proposed ballot measures destined for the November 2020 ballot … including one measure that will limit the Oxnard Mayor and City Council to no more than two consecutive four-year terms.
(Term-limited officeholders are permitted to run again after a two-year break.)
In the article, Oxnard City Manager Alexander Nguyen stated his opposition to term limits, claiming our “term limit initiative implies that voters can’t be trusted to pick the best candidate.”
So why is he now asking the Oxnard City Council at tonight’s council meeting to place a different term limits measure on the ballot?
Because his measure is actually an incumbency protection act.
On its surface, it appears to be a term limits proposal, limiting the City Council and Mayor to twelve years in office –– our competing measure limits them to eight years –– and a required two-year break before running again.
But if you read closely, you soon realize that the City Manager’s proposal treats the City Council and Mayor positions as subject to separate limits.
In essence, the twelve-year clock starts over each time one switches from Mayor to Council (or vice-versa), which means that the Mayor and at least one Councilmember –– and with some orchestration, more than one –– can avoid being subject to term limits for the rest of their natural lives.
To make his proposal seem more appealing, it states that it will require that the city post monthly financial reports online.
Compiling monthly financial statements is actually a requirement today under state law, but the city refuses to comply.
You might recall that our organization is suing the city to make them comply with that state law.
The council –– or the city manager on his own volition –– could start doing this tomorrow without ever having to go to a vote.
Why won’t they do that?
Perhaps they feel they need to entice you to vote for their measure instead of ours.
The City Manager’s measure purports to prohibit elected officials and planning commissioners from accepting gifts from lobbyists or city contracts.
But the Ventura County Star reports that such a prohibition already exists today … and no one seriously believes that this council –– or any future city council –– would ever eliminate such a ban.
So, why put this in an initiative?
Because it gives the illusion of creating reform so that you will vote for their measure instead of ours.
Lastly, the City Manager’s measure limits campaign contributions, which in theory sounds like a reform.
But well-connected folks easily circumvent such limits (and curry favor with elected officials) through the use of independent expenditure committees, as we witness with other elected positions that have such limits.
The only ones who are actually disadvantaged by those limits are … challengers.
But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
Aaron Starr is a local businessman