La Mesa council term-limit proposal inches forward

Vice Mayor Alessio files petition papers; Mayor Madrid not pleased

Art Madrid, Kristine Alessio
  • Art Madrid, Kristine Alessio

A committee that includes La Mesa vice mayor Kristine Alessio filed paperwork at city hall on November 5 to launch a petition drive to place a term-limit measure on the November 2014 ballot. The committee's "Three Consecutive Terms Limit" ordinance affecting the mayor and city council is a modified version of the proposed measure that Alessio brought to the council twice in October.

Both proposals set a 12-year limit for the council, mayor, or a combination of those offices. Term limits would take effect for people elected on or after November 4, 2014. The petition measure allows a termed-out incumbent to run again four years after leaving office. The measure Alessio presented to the council called for a two-year break.

"I brought it up initially because I believe in" term limits, Alessio said in a November 6 interview. Elected to the council last November, she said a "random survey of La Mesa" residents indicated "tremendous popular support" for limits.

Alessio is an officer of the La Mesa Term Limits Committee, a city ballot-measure committee that files campaign-finance forms at the city clerk's office, according to the group's news release.

Merchant Bill Jaynes said in a November 6 interview that he and election-law attorney Bill Baber are the other officers. Jaynes, a member of the La Mesa Citizen Oversight Group, said the "group supports the principle of term limits" and will help with the petition drive.

Baber, a La Mesa-Spring Valley school-board member, said in the news release that the ordinance was modeled after the 2012 term-limits law approved by California voters. "It replaces the lifetime ban [on termed-out state incumbents running] with a four-year cooling-off period."

To qualify for the ballot, the committee must collect signatures from 10 percent of registered voters, La Mesa city clerk Mary Kennedy said in a November 6 interview. At that time, 3306 signatures were needed; that amount could change when the County Registrar of Voters provides updated information, Kennedy said.

She said that petition proponents asked city attorney Glenn Sabine to provide a ballot title and summary of the ordinance; Sabine has 15 days to do this. The committee is then required to publish the proposed ordinance. Once it's published, supporters have 180 days to collect signatures.

Placing the measure on the ballot could cost $15,000, with an additional cost for verifying signatures.

Kennedy said Alessio's proposed ordinance will be on the council's January 14 agenda. The measure was discussed October 8, and Alessio joined in the vote to postpone action until the next meeting in order to obtain additional information from city staff. On October 22, the council voted again (3-2) to delay action on the measure for 60 days. Alessio and councilwoman Ruth Sterling voted against the delay.

Alessio said it "would be fine" if the council places her measure on the ballot, noting that it would save money. "If they do put it on the ballot, I would suggest four years" before a termed-out incumbent could run again.

Meanwhile, on November 6, 10News ran a story headlined, “Mayor Art Madrid believes proposal is personal vendetta.” In the article, Alessio is quoted as saying, "It's not directed at any one person.”

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So, a "random survey of La Mesa" residents indicated "tremendous popular support" for limits", huh? If so, why have so many of them voted again and again for the apparent Mayor-for-Life Art(uro de la) Madrid? Earlier reports indicate he's been in city government for 32 years, which is probably about twenty too many. But old stumblin', bumblin', embarrassin' Art is going to be limited to three more terms after this one, for a total of about 44 years in office. Some "personal vendetta!" He should live so long. The campaign points up a real political fact: voters will reelect incumbents when they know nothing about the record. Hence Art(uro) is elected and reelected in La Mesa. The voters are paying no attention to him or his behavior. If they were, he'd be just a memory now, not the mayor.

When Madrid runs again, and assuming he wins, he can go celebrate in Pete's Place, or some other fine La Mesa watering hole. Hope he gets a driver--one that doesn't drink this time.

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