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Chico City Councilmembers divided on term limit proposal

Some city leaders suspect there's more to this idea than keeping fresh blood in government.

Posted: Feb 21, 2018 4:41 PM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 5:13 PM

"Government is the only job in America where experience is a bad thing - we can look at the state legislature and identify that the lobbyists gain more control and influence when they passed term limits," said Chico City Councilman Randall Stone. "It hasn't improved the state legislature at all."

"It's very important that we bring new people to this process - it's not that experience is bad, it's that fresh blood is important,' said Chico City Councilman Andrew Coolidge.

Tuesday night, Chico City Council voted 4 to 3 to move forward with a plan to let voters decide on limiting council members to 3 terms.

"Intuitively it makes sense - new people, new blood. But I have to tell you after 40 years of experience in electoral politics, it's hard enough to get people of quality with the term limits we have now, I can't imagine if it was opening up every 12 years," said Stone.

"One of the drawbacks can be a winnowing out of institutional experience - losing qualified people to term limits can be a challenge for a community," said candidate Rich Ober.

But there is a strong public demand for checks on leadership.

"The voters nowadays can barely agree on anything, they can't even agree the sky is blue half the time, but they agree on this - 75% of voters approve of term limits," said Coolidge.

This proposal has some city leaders feeling under attack.

"We've got a group of people that very rarely win elections in the city of chico - how do you win? Reduce the amount of people voting, change the voting dates, increase the money you put into politics and implement term limits." said Stone.

"I think Sorenson proposed this to keep myself and Anne Schwab off the ballot in 2020, I think this was a power grab by the republicans on the council," said Chico City Councilmember Karl Ory.

By law, if term limits are eventually voter-approved, they can't be retroactive; so they won't affect the people in office now.

Regardless of personal feelings, the question remains - is there a hidden agenda here?

"Since everyone in office could serve another three terms, it's obvious to me that it's not, it's just to allow new people on the council and not create career politicians," said Coolidge.

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