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L.A. VOTERS MAY REVISIT TERM LIMITS COUNCIL MEMBERS TO PUT ISSUE ON MARCH BALLOT.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

Saying it has an obligation to find out whether voters still support term limits, the Los Angeles City Council took the first step Wednesday to place on the March ballot one of three measures to eliminate or expand it.

With final action scheduled for next week, the council voted separately to have measures drafted that would end the two-term limit or expand it to allow either three terms or four terms of four years each.

The council can decide to place any or all of the measures on the March 5 ballot, which also will include proposals to extend state legislators' maximum terms to three terms and to place a three-term limit on county officials.

``I think voters are ready to do away with term limits,'' said Councilman Nate Holden, who is in his fourth four-year term, including two covered by term-limits law, and will be forced from office in 2003. He said he would not run again even if allowed to do so.

``I think they have seen the problems we have had in Sacramento with term limits and are ready to do away with them or at least give us four terms. We have new members here who are just beginning to make progress, and then they are gone.''

In 1993, Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly approved the two-term limit proposal advanced by then-Mayor Richard Riordan. The measure applied to all officials elected in that year, but gave a grace period to those who faced election in 1995, allowing Holden and others to extend their time in office.

Before leaving office this year, Riordan acknowledged that two terms might be too brief and said he would support allowing a third term for city officials. However, he said he would not comment on the specific proposals now being considered by the council.

Holden wants to extend the limit to a maximum of four terms, noting that he has been elected to four terms on the council.

``If 16 years is good enough for me, I think it's good enough for the rest of you,'' Holden argued.

Council President Alex Padilla, describing himself as being a beneficiary of term limits, agreed with Holden.

``With four terms, you could spend your first term learning the job and your last would be as a lame duck,'' Padilla said. ``In between, there would be two productive terms.''

Also, he said, the recent terrorist attacks show the benefits of having experienced leaders.

``What would it be like in Washington if everyone only had a few years of experience? I think the government's response shows the benefit of people being on the job,'' Padilla said.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn, elected this year after former Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr. was termed out, said she felt personal conflict on the issue.

Her father, former Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, served on the Board of Supervisors for 40 years after six years on the City Council.

``I was raised to believe in public service,'' Hahn said. ``I believe public service is noble.''

At the same time, she said, she and other new members were the beneficiaries of term limits in being able to run for election without having to challenge incumbents.

As a member of the elected Charter Reform Commission, Hahn said there was a lengthy debate over changing term limits, but it was decided to keep the two-term provision.

Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, also being forced out in 2003 after four terms, said she opposes term limits but doubts any of the council proposals would be approved by voters.

``The fact of the matter is, every time they have had a chance, voters have voted for term limits,'' Galanter said.

Galanter said she also believes the two-term law is partly responsible for the low voter turnout in city elections. And she said the law effectively elects council members for eight years since they generally face no opposition for the second four-year term while other hopefuls just wait for them to be forced from office.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 15, 2001
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