Amnesia File

Tale of Two City Auditors: One (Retired) Opposed 2007 City Hall Attempt To Change LB's Two Terms+Write-In To Three Terms; The Incumbent Supports It Now is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(October 20, 2018, 9:45 a.m., updated Oct. 25, 5:28 p.m.) -- In May 2007, then-Mayor Bob Foster and some of LB's then-Councilmembers asked voters to change LB's 1992 petition-initiated term limits law to allow incumbents three terms without facing the grassroots measure's write-in requirement for a third term. LB voters overwhelmingly rejected it, with 68.58% voting "no."

Among those signing the successful ballot argument against the 2007 term limits change was then-retired LB City Auditor Robert Fronke

Roughly eleven years later, and shortly after her election to a fourth term (with no ballot opponent and no term limits), LB's incumbent City Auditor Laura Doud supports Mayor Robert Garcia's effort to convince LB voters to do what voters rejected in 2007: to let the incumbent Mayor and Councilmembers pursue third terms without facing a write-in requirement. opens our Amnesia File to revisit the 2007 arguments made by then-retired City Auditor Fronke (joined at that time by LB Business Journal publisher George Economides and John Gooding of Citizens for Better Long Beach) vs. those offered in support by then-retired Mayor Beverly O'Neill and then-State Senator (now Congressman) Alan Lowenthal.

We invite readers to compare these arguments with those offered now by incumbent Auditor Doud joined by incumbent Mayor Garcia, immediate past Mayor Bob Foster and the heads of LB's police and firefighter unions vs. arguments in opposition by Juan Ovalle, Outreach Director, People of Long Beach; Joe Sopo, President Long Beach Neighborhoods First; Rae Gabelich, Former 8th District Councilmember; Dan Pressburg, Retired Liquidation Specialist; and Corliss G. Lee, President Eastside Voice.

[Scroll down for further.]

In a recent mailer, Former Mayor O' Neill voiced her support for the Garcia-Doud Measure BBB.

Mr. Economides' Business Journal opposes Measure BBB, writing in its October 9 edition: "We find the wording misleading and feel it was done intentionally to confuse voters. Years ago, Long Beach voters decided the mayor and city council should be allowed to serve two terms, however a termed-out elected official could seek reelection through the write-in process. A write-in effort is challenging and expensive, as it should be, and has been accomplished only a handful of times. Think of it this way: If you are happy with the work the mayor or your councilmember is doing, and you want to see them remain in office, why eliminate that opportunity? The current system works. You want options, not constraints. The power to decide who represents you is in your hands -- where it should remain. We say NO to BBB."

Mr. Fronke tells that he's no longer a Long Beach resident and on that basis declined to offer a position on measure BBB. [update, Oct. 28, 5:28 p.m.] Mr. Gooding tells that his views today are consistent with reasoning in 2007; he likes LB's current law as it is, and Mr. Gooding notes that LB voters spoke on the matter in 2007. [end update.]

May 2007 Measure C
Argument For Proposition C

Our City government needs reform.

Two term limits on elected officials have done a disservice to our City. It encourages elected officials to pursue short-term policy successes that will allow them to run for higher office in order to avoid being termed-out, rather than look for long-term solutions to challenges facing our city.

When experienced representatives are termed-out, replacements must rely heavily on bureaucrats and lobbyists for expertise. These new elected officials can avoid accountability for the long-term effects of policies enacted by the previous officeholder. We need to hold our elected officials accountable for the long-term impacts of their decisions.

Harbor Commissioners and Water Commissioners currently have longer terms of office than the Mayor and City Council who appoint them. These non-elected commissioners need to have their terms of office brought in line with elected officials in order to make them responsive to the public.

A YES vote on Proposition C establishes a limit of three terms for City Council members to increase accountability and reduce the influence of lobbyists and bureaucrats.

A YES vote on Proposition C changes the terms of Water Commissioners, Harbor Commissioners and all other Charter-mandated Commissions to three terms of four years.

A YES vote on Proposition C ensures that our elected representatives will have a long-term perspective on the issues they face and be held accountable for the outcomes.

We need real reform for Long Beach so we can have a government that is responsive to the needs of our community and held accountable for the long-term effects of their decisions.

Please vote YES on Proposition C.

Senator Alan Lowenthal
Former Mayor Beverly O'Neill
Argument Against Proposition C

Fellow Citizens:

Limiting councilmembers to two four-year terms, which voters passed overwhelmingly in 1992, has ensured that new members have joined our city council every election since. These new members invariably added fresh ideas, new approaches to old problems, diverse viewpoints, and renewed energy to achieve significant progress.

Council positions should not be considered career opportunities or a stepping stone to higher office. Ideally they should be filled by citizens volunteering for a limited period to give their time and experience to represent neighbors in solving common problems.

Achieving this ideal will be less likely if term limits are extended. In a separate proposition (Proposition D) on this ballot, the council is proposing to liberalize incumbent's ability to run as a write-in candidate. This makes it much easier for someone to continue in office without extending terms.

Some argue that replacing long-time incumbents can be left to the voters at election time; however, experience has shown that unseating an incumbent is quite difficult, more so the longer he or she holds office. Running for council is a costly and time consuming effort. Faced with a well-financed incumbent, many well qualified candidates are unwilling to make the effort, while a wide-open race for a vacant seat often attracts a number of qualified candidates who bring positions on issues of vital interest to voters. Are such vacant-seat races invigorating and good for our city as a whole, and for the district involved? We're convinced they are. If you agree, you should oppose this proposition.

Let's assure that there is a reasonable opportunity for all to participate in our city government.

Let's continue to limit the council to two terms.

Vote NO on Proposition C.

Robert Fronke, Former City Auditor
John Gooding, Citizens for a Better Long Beach
George Economides, Publisher, Long Beach Business Journal

Nov. 2018 Measure BBB
Argument For Measure BBB

YES ON MEASURE BBB - Strengthening Term Limit Laws

Join Mayor Robert Garcia, City Auditor Laura Doud, former Mayor Bob Foster, and your Police and Firefighters and Vote Yes on Measure BBB.

Long Beach voters have supported reasonable term limit laws that ensure stability and good government. However, current law allows the Mayor and City Council members to serve an unlimited number of terms as a write-in candidate. And as long as you win the primary election as a write-in candidate, your name can appear on a general election ballot-election after election.

Measure BBB will limit the number of terms for Mayor and Councilmembers to three terms or a total of 12 years. Creating a strong limit of 12 years, and no more, aligns with established term limits for the California State Legislature, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Los Angeles.

Long Beach is the only major city in the nation that allows officials to run for unlimited terms as a write-in and then appear on the general election ballot. Measure BBB will prohibit Mayors and Councilmembers who have served three full terms from running again, and again, and again.

Long Beach has a history of electing good government officials to three terms, including former Mayor Beverly O'Neill and Councilmember Dee Andrews. Three terms is enough. Measure BBB is a good government measure that will give Long Beach city government stability and align with term limit laws in the state and the county. It's simple and eliminates the confusing write-in process.

Measure BBB is the most effective way to make sure our term limit laws are effective, easy to understand, and accountable to voters. Please join us in voting YES on Measure BBB!

Robert Garcia
Mayor of Long Beach

Laura Doud
City Auditor of Long Beach

Bob Foster
Former Mayor of Long Beach

Rex Pritchard
President, Long Beach Firefighters Association

James Foster
President, Long Beach Police Officers Association

Argument Against Measure BBB

Don't be fooled. The system is NOT broken.

This City Charter amendment does NOT LIMIT, but instead INCREASES, term limits. It extends our current limit of TWO TERMS (eight years) TO THREE TERMS. This change would mean TWELVE YEARS IN OFFICE for incumbent politicians. Does that sound like a strengthening of term limits to you?

Write-in candidacy is not a loophole. It is a statutory right that will not be stopped by this amendment.

This is a deceptive, self-serving amendment that does nothing but benefit politicians. It increases our current 2-term limit to a 3-term limit. Nothing more, nothing less.

Running for office is an extremely costly and time-consuming effort. Faced with a well-financed existing officeholder, many highly qualified candidates are simply unable to compete successfully.

Insider politicians rarely lose elections because of the crushing power of incumbency, which includes the financial support of special interest Political Action Committees (PACs) unavailable to most challengers. This creates an insurmountable funding gap for neighborhood advocates with new or grassroots perspectives.

The public should not have to wait for OVER A DECADE for positive change, fresh candidates, and new ideas.

This amendment favors career politicians dominating local government. The longer they stay in office the less and less responsive they become to constituents.

Expanding to three terms will make our electoral system less free, less competitive, and less representative. We need to maintain our current two-term limit to keep our city government honest, effective, and accountable to voters.

Let's assure that there is a reasonable opportunity for all to participate in our city government.

Let's continue to limit the Mayor and Council to two terms.

Vote NO on Measure BBB.

Juan E. Ovalle
Outreach Director, People of Long Beach*

Joe Sopo
President, Long Beach Neighborhoods 1st

Rae Gabelich
Former 8th District Councilmember

Dan Pressburg
Retired Liquidation Specialist

Corliss G. Lee
President Eastside Voice

Although LB voters rejected three-term Measure C over two-to-one, LB voters approved Measure D in 2007, easing the write-in requirement somewhat, requiring an incumbent to survive one write-in (finishing first or second) and if receiving under 50% of votes, proceeding to a runoff with his/her name printed on the ballot. That amendment passed with 63.49% of the vote. It's part of the term limiting law, essentially a hybrid, that LB has today.






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