Term extension or limit? OC supervisors argue over proposal language

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Some Orange County supervisors are pushing for longer consecutive term limits. A new ballot proposal would grant a lifetime limit of 12 years, which can be served consecutively. Photo by Shutterstock.

Some Orange County supervisors are getting creative with language in hopes of extending their consecutive term limits. At Tuesday’s meeting, they’re expected to discuss reviving a proposal, which failed last year, that would extend term limits, while also capping those terms for a lifetime. 

Currently, supervisors can hold office for two consecutive terms — each term lasting four years. After a break, they can run again later for up to two more terms at a time.

The new ballot proposal would replace those rules with a lifetime limit of 12 years, meaning supervisors can serve three consecutive terms. That would allow supervisors like Lisa Bartlett, whose second term ends next year, to run for another consecutive term.

Critics say the proposal’s language is a sneaky way for supervisors to stay on the board longer.

“[Politicians] know that the public wants term limits, but then they start pushing the envelope a little bit,” says Gustavo Arellano, columnist at the LA Times. “‘Just give us one more term. We just need a little bit more time, but then we'll get out.’ Right now it's three terms, eventually it'll be lifetime appointments, just watch.”

The proposal must pass a Board of Supervisors vote to make it onto the ballot in the upcoming special recall election of Governor Gavin Newsom, which is expected to take place this fall.

If it becomes a ballot measure and voters pass it, Arellano predicts supervisors like Bartlett will argue for the clock to reset, meaning she could serve for 12 more years beyond the eight she’s already served.

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