Games Councilmembers Play - Illegal Move to Kill Strict Term Limits

The Oxnard City Council thinks they’re playing a clever game with voters but they actually broke the law yet again!

Way back in 1973 the Oxnard electorate voted to separately elect the mayor with a two-year term –– after residents gathered signatures to place the matter on the ballot.

Stay with me. You’ll see why this is important in a moment.

On October 15, 2019, when the council voted to place Measure B on the March 2020 ballot, the city manager and city attorney advised the council that MOST of Measure B’s provisions could be enacted into law with a simple vote of the council

… But because Measure B also extends the mayor’s term from two to four years –– and the voters had already decided on two years in 1973 –– it would take a public vote to modify that.

The reason is California Elections Code Section 9217, which states:

“… No ordinance that is either proposed by initiative petition and adopted by the vote of the legislative body of the city without submission to the voters, or adopted by the voters, shall be repealed or amended except by a vote of the people, unless provision is otherwise made in the original ordinance.”

That makes sense. After all, the City Council does not have more power than the people who democratically voted them into office.

So, why is that relevant? You’re about to find out.

During 2019, Oxnard residents collected over 12,000 signatures to put a strict term limits measure on the November 2020 ballot.

When the Oxnard City Council was officially notified on January 21, 2020 that we qualified our measure for the ballot, they did something really sneaky.

Instead of placing our term limits measure on the November 2020 ballot, the Oxnard City Council –– at the recommendation of the city attorney –– voted to adopt our measure, knowing that the already-printed voter guide would then incorrectly inform voters that Measure B “imposes” term limits.

Of course, the City Council adopted our citizen-sponsored term limits measure into law effective January 21 not because they actually WANTED strict term limits. They did this to KILL strict term limits.

The City Council understood that Measure B’s looser term limits (of twelve years) –– if adopted March 3 –– would then OVERRIDE our stricter term limits (of eight years).

We’re certain that the City Council thought they had shrewdly outmaneuvered Oxnard’s voters. But we’re here to tell you that they actually made a legal blunder.

You see –– as is the case with the City Council’s Measure B –– our citizen-sponsored term limits initiative ALSO extends the term of Mayor from two years to four years.

So, the City Council did not have the authority to enact our term limits measure in January for the same reason they couldn't adopt their Measure B back in October. Their only LEGAL option was to place our term limits measure on the November 2020 ballot.

So, once again, we will need lawyers to protect Oxnard residents from City Hall’s repressive –– though sometimes incompetent –– game playing.

Unfortunately, even if Measure B fails in Tuesday’s election, we will still need to seek a court order acknowledging that what the council did with our term limits measure violated the law ... and order them to place our measure on the November 2020 ballot.

If we don’t go to court, you can bet that in about eight years a future mayor or council member will successfully argue to a judge that the council wrongly enacted our term limits measure –– meaning that we could once again have no term limits at all.

We are tired of the perpetual need for attorneys. Sadly, the Oxnard City Council continues to engage in unlawful behavior to steamroll the public and the courts are our only recourse to protect the People’s rights.

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