Term Limits for Santa Ana Mayor Placed on July 16 Agenda

The Santa Ana City Council is scheduled July 16 to consider a ballot measure that for the first time could place a term limit on longtime Mayor Miguel Pulido and change term limits for other council members.

It is not yet clear what limit the ballot measure, proposed by Councilwoman Michele Martinez, would actually set. The agenda merely states “discussion of potential ballot measure regarding mayoral and council term limits.”

The mayor in Santa Ana now can serve an unlimited number of two-year terms. Pulido is nearing the end of his ninth term as mayor, and he announced at the annual state of the city speech last month that he plans to run for reelection.

A push to effectively oust Pulido would signal another shift in the seven-member council’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering. While the overriding assumption has been that Pulido pulls all the important levers at City Hall, the political dynamic in recent years has been defined by gamesmanship and shifting alliances.

Months of machinations surrounding the appointment last month of Police Chief Paul Walters as city manager revealed much about the council’s contentious political process. A national search to replace longtime former City Manager Dave Ream was suspended twice — once without some council members’ knowledge. Martinez was among the strongest proponents of the search.

The name of the leading candidate for city attorney was also leaked in what some sources close to City Hall said was a move by Pulido to install his preferred candidate. The council has since appointed Sonia Carvalho, who was not the mayor’s pick.

Martinez and other council members could not be immediately reached for comment.

This would be the third consideration of term limits for the mayor since Pulido first became mayor in 1994. The most recent try led to the passage of Measure D in 2008, but instead of limiting the mayor’s time in office, it extended council members’ two-term limit to three terms.

A city parks commissioner, who was appointed by City Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez, has filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city to allow Alvarez to circumvent the term limits in Measure D and run for a fourth term on the council.