Supervisors are limited to two consecutive terms but can run for two more terms if they skip an election. The proposal that will appear on the recall ballot would allow supervisors to serve three consecutive terms but none after that.
“This is a greatly misunderstood proposal,” Supervisor Doug Chaffee said. “This is actually putting a cap on terms to three, and we’re not deciding the issue. We’re putting it on the ballot for the people to decide. … I understand a lot of people don’t like the ideal. Well, they can vote against it.”
Chaffee also said voters can also reject a supervisor’s reelection.
“You still have to get elected. You can’t just walk in,” Chaffee said.
Supervisors Don Wagner and Katrina Foley voted no.
Wagner said he was no fan of term limits.
“I would suggest that term limits are unnecessary,” Wagner said. “Term limits are antithetical to a democracy. That said, they’re popular with the public.”
Wagner said that because of state law, if voters approve the new term limits it will “[reset] everyone’s clock” so the current supervisors could then run for three more terms before being termed out.
“I don’t believe we should change the rules in the middle of the game,” Wagner said. “I would hope that the public when it ultimately votes on this measure is aware that what you’re doing is potentially allowing any one of us to serve into 2034.”
Orange County Board Chairman Andrew Do said it was a “difficult matter for me to consider.”
Do noted this was his 14th year working “on the fifth floor” of the County Hall of Administration.
Do said that he wouldn’t try to take advantage of having more time to serve if the measure is approved by voters.
“I will tell you right now I will not serve more than 12 years,” Do said. “I will say that on the record right now. … I’m going to abide by the 12-year lifetime ban.”
Do was elected to the board in a special election in January 2015 and reelected in 2016 and again last year.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer is the only person to take advantage of serving two terms and then returning to the board.
Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who served two terms, attempted to again get elected in the special election that Foley won in March.
“We don’t need this,” Wagner said. “It’s only happened once before and someone else tried and failed.”
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the proposal “mirrors what’s happening with the state” offices. A state lawmaker can serve for 12 years and then there is a lifetime ban, Bartlett said.
“I think the public at large doesn’t want to see someone in office for 30 or 40 years,” Bartlett said. “We’re not only mirroring what’s happened at the state level, but what’s happened in large urban counties across the country.”