Anaheim Council Places Shorter Term for Mayor on June Ballot

Tom Tait
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It will be up to Anaheim voters in the June primary election to decide whether to cut the term the city’s mayor serves from four years to two years, after a vote Tuesday by the Anaheim City Council.

The slashing of the mayoral term was one of several changes to the city charter that the council approved for the ballot Tuesday and the latest in a series of moves by the four-member council majority against Mayor Tom Tait.

Last May, Councilman Jordan Brandman asked for a charter review committee to review and recommend changes to the document, which delineates the city’s governing structure.

Most of the committee’s seven appointees are political allies of the council majority, which is aligned with the city’s high-powered business interests and has recently isolated Tait by reducing his agenda-setting power and cutting his staff budget.

The committee chairman was Anaheim Chamber of Commerce President Todd Ament.

The only two committee members who voted against shrinking the mayoral term were Tait appointee Tom Dunn and Amanda Edinger, who was appointed by Councilwoman Lucille Kring. Tait and Kring — both mayoral candidates in this year’s election — are against the change.

The council rejected a committee recommendation that term limits for all five council members be eliminated. They said that with voters at the November general election deciding on whether to implement single-member council districts, answering the question of term limits was premature.

“I just don’t know whether this issue is ripe yet,” Brandman said.

Voters will decide whether to make the charter changes by casting ballots on three measures.

The first measure is a combination of several amendments. Among other changes, it merges the offices of treasurer and finance director; makes the charter’s language gender neutral; allows the council to delegate the treasurer’s appointment to the city manager; softens a city residency requirement for the city manager; and ratifies a water revenue transfer to the general fund.

The second measure deals with the mayoral term length, and the third measure is to pave the way for the council to approve an ordinance allowing limited sale of fireworks in the city.

If the mayoral term length measure is passed and Tait wins this year’s mayoral election, he will have to run again in 2016 if he wants to keep his seat. He is allowed to run for one more two-year term after that.

Ament said the committee recommended a two-year term for the mayor because it increases accountability of the mayor to the voters and affords them “more opportunities to choose different competing visions of the city.”

Ament noted that every city in Orange County with a directly elected mayor also has two-year terms for the mayor.

Tait pointed out that voters overwhelmingly decided in 1992 to change the length of the mayoral term from two years to four years and have thus already spoken on the issue. But he said he wouldn’t “stand in the way” if the voters want to change it back.

“We’ll let the people decide,” Tait said.

The council approved the mayoral term and fireworks items unanimously and Tait voted against the majority on the other charter amendment measure.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the vote tally for one of the charter amendment proposals.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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