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Term Limits May Be Placed on the Ballot : City council: A former lawmaker spearheads the drive for a two-term limit. Registrar of voters is checking petitions to see if the initiative will qualify.

July 11, 1993|PSYCHE PASCUAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

DOWNEY — A Downey lawyer and former city councilman wants to limit terms on the council.

Joseph E. Di Loreto is seeking an amendment to the city charter that would restrict council members to two four-year terms.

"People now become professional career politicians," said Di Loreto, who served on the council from 1972-76 and was defeated in his bid for a second term. "I've always believed that if you can't accomplish what you want to accomplish in eight years, you don't belong there. You're just wasting your time."

Last month Di Loreto submitted petitions to the city clerk bearing 8,756 signatures. The county registrar of voters has until the end of July to determine whether the petitions have at least 6,023 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, City Clerk Judith E. McDonnell said.

If the registrar determines that there are enough valid signatures, the City Council would have until Aug. 6 to schedule an election, which would cost the city about $50,000, she said.

If voters approve the measure, Downey would join the cities of Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Long Beach and Cerritos in limiting the number of terms for council members.

Di Loreto, who said he is the chairman and sole member of Term Limits for Downey, has spent about $12,500 to advertise, print and circulate the petition. He said he has no hard feelings against any particular council member and has not opposed any of the council's recent decisions.

He launched the petition drive in April, a year after former Councilwoman Barbara Hayden failed in her attempt to place a similar measure before voters.

Four people have served more than two terms in Downey's 37-year history, including one of the principal opponents to the limits, Councilwoman Diane P. Boggs.

Boggs was elected to her third council term last year. Although she plans to retire when her term ends in 1996, Boggs said she should be not be prevented by law from running.

Boggs said she objects to Di Loreto's characterization that council members have made a career out of serving the city.

Three members of the council, Barbara J. Riley, Gary P. McCaughan and Joyce L. Lawrence, have served less than two years.

Mayor Robert S. Brazelton has served for three years. He said he has not decided whether he will run again when his term expires in June, 1994.

The part-time council members get monthly stipends of $365 and do not receive large financial contributions, Boggs said.

Voters have been able to replace council members without limiting terms, Boggs added. "They have the option of voting us out," she said.

The only incumbent who advocates term limits is Riley. Other cities have voted in term limits because voters want more control in choosing their representatives, Riley said.

"People have felt once a candidate gets in, it's hard to get them out," she said.

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