Two months after beginning a Signature Drive, members of the West Hollywood Term Limits group submitted more than 4,000 petition signatures to the West Hollywood City Hall on Tuesday, believing they had far surpassed the amount needed to put the matter on a March 2013 ballot.
The group is seeking to restrict West Hollywood city council members to serving no more than three terms.
“We have been energized by the enthusiasm in the community for this issue,” said key organizer Scott Schmidt. “The people of West Hollywood are ready for change; they are ready for fresh, new leadership.”
Organizer Sheila Lightfoot announced on Monday that the crew had collected a final total of 3,454 signatures with verified West Hollywood addresses.
To qualify the petition for the March 2013 ballot, the group believed it needed a little more than 2,300 signatures from the 23,000 registered voters in the city (10 percent). In all, more than 4,000 signatures were collected.
Group volunteers made one final push last weekend, despite believing they had already far surpassed what was needed.
Of the city council members, only recently elected John D’Amico, has served less than a decade. John Heilman has served 28 years, Abbe Land 21, Mayor Jeff Prang 15 and John Duran 11.
During the signature drive, only Councilman D’Amico signed the petition.
“The conversation I had with John (D’Amico) was if 2 or 3,000 people in the city feel we should have the discussion, we should have the discussion about term limits,” Schmidt said. “I appreciate his fresh approach to it.”
According to Schmidt, the group did not receive any further feedback from the other council members.
In fact, according to Schmidt, term limit organizers approached Mayor Prang and Councilman Heilman at the Tom of Finland Erotic Art Fair over the weekend and could not get a response.
“We asked Heilman if he was a registered voter in West Hollywood and he kept walking,” Schmidt said with a laugh. “He didn’t decline, he just ignored us.”
Even if term-limits are imposed on the city council, each of the current council members could serve for another 12 years, as the law can not be retroactive.
“It really wasn’t about any of them individually, it was about empowering the people of West Hollywood to vote on the issue.”
Next up, the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters needs to verify the signatures (making sure the people that signed actually live in WeHo and are registered voters). The registrar gets 30 business days to do that before the city council can officially place the initiative on the March ballot.
The city council could adopt the petition into law, but that’s highly unlikely.
The city council has until Dec. 7 to make it all official; leaving either the Nov. 19 or Dec. 4 regularly scheduled meetings as potential dates to put the issue on the ballot.
The term limits group is a conglomerate of local activists who have led a number of other actions and movements against the city in the past. They’ve included key leaders of a lawsuit to save a property named Tara (after Gone With The Wind), another lawsuit to protect a Colonial revival apartment complex called Carlton Manor, and a recent movement to stop the city from moving forward on construction of Plummer Park.
Of the alliance: “It was spontaneous,” former city councilman and volunteer Steve Martin said. “Like Mary Magdalene.”
“Many of us,” he added, “have been friends for a long time.”
The term limits volunteers made their signature haul primarily during a six-week period, staking out at local hotspots, grocery stores, and walking up and down WeHo sidewalks.
This all comes on the heels of California Proposition 28, which reduced the total number of years a politician can serve in the California State Legislature from 14 to 12 years.