New Supervisors’ Chairman Seeks to Extend Board Term Limits

Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach looks to be heading to the state Senate.

Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach looks to be heading to the state Senate.

 Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach (Photo by: Violeta Vaqueiro)

It’s been rumored for months that John Moorlach, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, wants to seek a third term. This week he made it official.

On Tuesday Moorlach will propose to his colleagues that they place a measure on the June primary ballot that would extend county supervisors' limit to three terms or 12-years.

“Game on,” Moorlach said, after getting off a plane Thursday night at John Wayne Airport.

While voters seem to like term limits, Moorlach said longer terms are exactly what’s needed to have better public policy.

“The majority are not happy with the results,” Moorlach said. “We got rid of Willie Brown but now you have no institutional knowledge in Sacramento. People feel like lobbyists run the place,” Moorlach said.

He added that Orange County’s government is more administrative than legislative and requires more management, despite the fact that taxpayers employ a CEO and elect a five-member board to monitor policy.

While he acknowledges that many will criticize him for attempting to increase his pension by extending his term in office, Moorlach said that’s not true. He noted that he could run for county auditor-controller if he wanted to stick around indefinitely.

“I can anticipate the missiles coming in, like I’m doing it to spike my pension, … but I’m happy to finish in 2014,” he said.

Still, the question should be put to voters, he asserted.

“Voters should take a hard look at it,” Moorlach said. “Would you rather have experience on the board or not?”

“All our neighbor counties are term-limited at three terms,” Moorlach said. A three-term limit would give Orange County the ability to be more active in statewide organizations, he said.

Shawn Nelson, vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, counts himself as a supporter of term limits but says Moorlach’s proposal for a three-term limit seems right.

Nelson also now sees that even the simplest issues, like developing small parks in cities, take longer than expected.

“You don’t step in and start changing the world right away,” said Nelson, the most recent addition to the board.

While change is good, so is experience, Nelson said. He believes Supervisor Bill Campbell is the most effective supervisor, chiefly because of his time in office.

“I can tell you the most effective legislator has been Bill Campbell,” Nelson said. “Coincidentally, he’s been there for more than eight years.”

But, he said, there also comes a time when politicians should go.

“Take a look at anybody whose been in a job for more than 12 years,” Nelson said. “They almost always become the establishment. The creativity is gone.”

— NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

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