CERRITOS — A referendum that would prohibit council members from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms has qualified for the November ballot, city officials announced late last week.
Both proponents and opponents of the proposed City Charter amendment immediately predicted victory in the fall.
"This will pass--absolutely," said Chris Fuentes, one of the measure's sponsors and organizer of a group called Active Citizens Together. "We have a very highly motivated populous that want a chance to participate but can't if somebody develops a little fiefdom (on the council)."
Mayor Don Knabe, one of four members of the City Council opposed to the measure, was equally confident that the two-term limit will be defeated.
"Once voters understand that this initiative really denies them freedom of choice they will vote against it," Knabe said.
Flow of New Ideas
The two-term limit, proponents say, is an attempt to lessen the power of incumbency that they claim is a big advantage for council members in raising money and votes at election time. They also argue that the measure would ensure a continuous infusion of new ideas and enthusiasm into city government.
Opponents, however, say leaders of the two-term movement are unsuccessful council candidates who are trying help themselves eventually get elected. They also contend that the effectiveness of a council member does not necessarily diminish if they serve more than two terms.
Calling the ballot measure a "ridiculous" idea, Councilman Daniel K. Wong said, "If you do a good job, you should be allowed to run again . . . leave it up to the voters to decide who's best qualified."
Besides Knabe and Wong, council members Diana S. Needham and Barry A. Rabbitt also oppose the measure. All four have said that they will work to defeat the two-term limit by making personal appearances and raising money for mailers. Needham was elected in April to her third term, while Rabbitt won his fifth term on the council.
Only newcomer Ann B. Joynt, elected in April, favors the measure.
Stand to Lose Soon
Knabe and Wong would be the most immediate losers if the two-term limit is adopted. Both are midway through their second terms and each has expressed intentions of running for third terms in April, 1988.
To qualify the measure for the ballot, proponents submitted 2,800 signatures from residents a month ago, although only 2,301 were needed to qualify it for the Nov. 4 ballot, City Clerk Caroline deLlamas said.
At its regularly scheduled meeting this Thursday, the council is expected to adopt a formal resolution placing the the measure on the ballot, City Atty. Kenneth Brown said.
Looking ahead to the fall campaign, Fuentes said those backing the measure will try to win support without an expensive campaign by going door-to-door, talking to residents.
"This whole movement began as a grass-roots efforts and it will remain just that," Fuentes said.
Knabe and Wong said they have no idea at this point how much it will cost to defeat the measure. But Knabe said at least one citywide mailer will be sent to residents urging a no vote, and Wong said he will contribute "whatever is necessary" to defeat the measure.