Nelson Postpones Controversial Term Limits Proposal

Following intense criticism from fellow Republicans, Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson on Tuesday opted to put off his controversial proposal to extend supervisors’ term limits.

Nelson’s proposal, which would allow him to serve up to 12 extra years on the board, was met with harsh criticism after he unveiled it last week.

Nelson had scheduled a supervisors’ vote Tuesday to put the issue before voters in November. But after it became clear he didn’t have the three-vote majority needed to get the item approved Tuesday, he postponed it until the board’s next meeting, on July 26.

It remains unclear whether he will be able garner enough support among his colleagues to get the issue approved for the November ballot. Two of his fellow supervisors – Todd Spitzer and Michelle Steel – have publicly opposed the measure, meaning he needs support from both Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett and Supervisor Andrew Do.  Do was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

There are two more supervisors’ meetings left before the deadline to get the measure on the November ballot, according to Spitzer.

Nelson argues that the term limits extension, from two four-year terms to three four-year terms, is prudent because it takes years for supervisors to get up to speed in understanding the complexities of county government and policy.

But the proposal has drawn intense opposition from prominent local Republicans.

Spitzer called it “rushed” and “completely self-serving,” and GOP activist Jon Fleischman railed against the proposal in an online post.

Nelson didn’t comment on his proposal Tuesday, nor did any of the other supervisors. But Fleischman did weigh in during public comments, after waiting about three hours to speak.

“Term limits exist because we fundamentally believe that citizens should run their government, and that people should come” and serve the public for a short period before returning to live under the rules they promulgated, Fleischman said.

Nelson’s proposal also misleads voters by asking them to approve a three-term limit, while leaving out the fact that there’s currently a two-term limit, Fleishman said.

“We very much oppose it,” Fleischman said, calling the measure “deceptive and misleading.”

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. He can be reached at

  • John Claxton

    I think this issue is being pushed by Nelson’s chief of staff Denis Billsomedough. He is getting nervous that he will be out of a job in a couple years and is desperately scrambling to extend it. Otherwise, Nelson will be forced to break all the rules and shove this worthless at-will employee down the throat of some poor depart head head, probably back to public works or community resources (I hear the DA’s wife needs help processing employee tuition reimbursement forms and it pays $100k a year). We can’t have that not can we?

  • OCservant_Leader

    Nelson doesn’t seem too concerned about his flip-flop regarding pensions and becoming a career politician. Did the ROV guarantee him a win?

  • Jacki Livingston

    Wow, Shawn…is that egg on your face? Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.

  • Paul Lucas

    Im always amused at those Politicos who rail against Government and yet fight to stay in power. Such sweet Irony.